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Seven water distribution sites will be open 'until further notice' in Mississippi

Gov. Tate Reeves lamented "profoundly unfair" circumstances that have left many residents of Jackson, the state's capital and largest city, without running or safe water.

JACKSON, Miss. — The state opened seven major water distribution sites that will serve the parched residents of Mississippi's capital city "until further notice," officials said Thursday.

Gov. Tate Reeves told reporters the centers will quickly and efficiently get bottles of drinking water, nonpotable water and sanitizer into the hands of Jackson residents — but he offered no timeline for when the water crisis could end.

"These sites will be well-stocked, they will be well-staffed, and they will be well-prepared to handle the continued emergency of the coming days," he said.

The sites will be open from "9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. each day until further notice," Reeves said.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a water system emergency Monday evening because of complications from the Pearl River flooding.

Issues at the O.B. Curtis water plant resulted in low or no water pressure for many residents throughout the city.

Cases of bottled water are handed out at a Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition distribution site
Cases of bottled water are handed out Wednesday at a Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition distribution site in Jackson.Brad Vest / Getty Images

Lumumba told constituents Thursday that local, state and federal authorities are in constant communication in their joint efforts to get safe water flowing in Jackson.

“We have made some positive gains within the system," he said.

“We understand your frustrations. We understand your impatience with this challenge, and all of this is warranted. I just want to assure you that you have a united front at this hour at this time endeavoring to fix it.”

Reeves also lamented the hardships placed on Jackson residents.

“I know that you’re dealing with a profoundly unfair situation. It’s frustrating," he said Thursday. "It’s wrong … and it needs to be fixed.”

Reeves warned residents that even if an acceptable level of water pressure starts coming from faucets, they shouldn’t drink it.

"Do not drink the water," he said. "Do not use the water to brush your teeth. If you’re going to drink the water, please boil it. There’s been a boil water notice in the city for quite some time. That has not changed."

Jackson, with about 150,000 residents, nearly 83% of whom are Black, has long been plagued by infrastructure issues that have made getting clean, reliable water a challenge.

A hands out cases of bottled water
Aelicia Hodge hands out cases of bottled water Wednesday at a Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition distribution site in Jackson.Brad Vest / Getty Images

Ashely Tosé, who is seven months pregnant, said her fellow Jackson residents are quickly losing patience and hope.

"People are fed up. They’re running to bordering cities who have clean water to just bathe and to go into their grocery stores and buying up all the water, because we have none,” she said at a church-run preschool.

Tosé said that if the situation doesn't improve dramatically, she fears what lies ahead for her unborn child.

“So, I am going to have a Black son. And to have a city that has poor schools, poor roads, grocery stores running out of food and no water to drink — I honestly don’t even want to bathe my baby in Jackson’s water.” 

Morgan Chesky and Jillian Frankel reported from Jackson, Mississippi, and David K. Li from New York City.