Mississippi capital still without running water

Mississippi's capital still without running water

UPDATE DAY

The nearly 150,000 residents of Mississippi's capital Jackson, mostly African American, were still without clean running water on Thursday as authorities asked those still with power to shower mouth closed. 

This city in the southern United States, where 80% of the population is black and where the poverty rate is high, has been experiencing a serious water crisis for years.

But, since the beginning week, she is plunged into an emergency situation. Flooding has disrupted the operation of an essential, and already aging, water treatment plant.

By opening the tap, the inhabitants sometimes only see a few drops flowing out, or brown water. They are forced to line up to collect bottles of water.

“It's like living a nightmare,” said Erin Washington, a student at Jackson State University, told CNN.

And what's left of running water shouldn't be drunk, authorities have warned.

“In the shower, make sure your mouth isn't open because, again, you shouldn't swallow that water,” Jim Craig of Mississippi health officials said Wednesday.

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City authorities noted an improvement on Thursday, with some neighborhoods beginning to regain pressure. The water treatment plant “made significant progress during the night and this morning,” said the town hall.

A pump, rented urgently, was installed there on Wednesday.

“Problems remain to be resolved in the coming days, but the outlook is for progress today,” welcomed the town hall.

But daily life is turned upside down. Schools have had to switch to distance learning, and businesses are paying a heavy price.

“Hotels and restaurants, already on the tightrope, can't open or have to adapt, buying ice, water or sodas,” Jeff Rent, president of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, told CNN.

“People are on edge,” Sarah Friedler, manager of Brent's Drugs restaurant, told local newspaper Clarion Ledger.

They're “choosing not to come and eat in Jackson. They simply go elsewhere, so as not to have to worry about this problem,” she regretted.

The situation suffered by the inhabitants of Jackson recalls one of the worst health scandals in the world. American history, that of the contaminated water of Flint, Michigan, during the past decade. 

In this industrial city, a change in the source of drinking water supply, decided by measure economy, had permanently poisoned the network, exposing the inhabitants to lead poisoning.