600 Mississippi National Guardsmen to Help Distribute Water in Jackson

As Mississippi residents continue to struggle with access to safe drinking water, the state’s governor said that 600 Mississippi National Guardsmen will be deployed to Jackson, the state’s capital, to assist with distributing bottled water.

They and other groups will also be working on the O.B. Curtis Water Plant – one of two major water treatment plants in the city – is being used to restore water quality and provide clean water.

“In the past 48 hours, we’ve installed a new rental pump, contracted with outside operators to do critical maintenance and started other emergency repairs,” Mississippi Gov. On Wednesday, Tate Reeves spoke to reporters about the temporary measure that was being taken to restore water pressure. To complete this project, we will need electricians, mechanics, divers, and other skilled operators. It’s happening.”

” We will have Mississippi National Guard personnel deploy,” Reeves stated. “Those deployments will include 600 guardsmen, 123 vehicles, bulk water distribution, bottled water, and hand sanitizer distribution. To assist with the Incident Management Assistance Team , we will use the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s services.

Reeves said he hopes that Jackson and the surrounding areas, where about 180,000 people live, will have water service restored and running again this week, but did not provide a timeline.

Emergency declarations from Governor, Biden

He declared an emergency in Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday following the O.B. Curtis Water Plant was shut down Monday by long-standing problems that were exacerbated over the weekend due to heavy rainfall and flooding. Reeves also advised residents to stop drinking the water.

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He reiterated Wednesday’s message: “Our immediate priority should be to have running water. Even if that means temporarily giving up some quality standards to meet basic safety and sanitary needs. We reiterate that you should not drink water coming from pipes.

Jackson residents waited for hours at water distribution stations where volunteers gave out bottles of water. Local stores also offered water.

The state had brought in 10 tractor-trailers of non-potable water as part of its response. It was expecting more than 100 trucks in the coming days, Stephen McCraney, the state emergency management director, told reporters on Tuesday. These non-potable items are for washing clothes and flushing toilets.

Biden Administration Involvement

To supplement the state’s response to the water crisis in Mississippi, the Biden administration approved late Tuesday a separate emergency declaration and authorized federal aid.

“Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding for a period of 90 days,” the White House said in a statement late on Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 31, 2022. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is “is working closely with the state officials to identify needs,” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “is coordinating with industry partners to expedite delivery of critical treatment equipment for emergency repairs at the city of Jackson water treatment facilities,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.

She also said that $450 million had been allocated for water upgrades across the state, with $20 million of that amount allotted to the city of Jackson for water and sewer infrastructure needs, as a provision of the American Rescue Plan, a massive spending bill that Biden signed in March 2021.

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” The state has made a commitment to meet that promise. We have also made about $75 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding available this year to provide clean and safe water across the state of Mississippi,” she said Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre later said on Wednesday there is also “$30.9 million through the EPA’s revolving loan funds for treatment and distribution system improvements for Jackson, Mississippi, specifically.”

Also, for long-term support, “we announced $300,000 as part of the administration’s Justice40 Initiative for the Army Corps to conduct a validation study to reduce flooding from the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi,” she told reporters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Mimi Nguyen Li covers news around the world with an emphasis on U.S. news. Contact her at [email protected]

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