‘We just ran out’: Distribution site out of water in an hour; delivery trucks delayed, organizer says

Volunteers unload water off a trailer during a water distribution event at Candlestick Park in...
Volunteers unload water off a trailer during a water distribution event at Candlestick Park in late December.(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 8:55 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many residents were left high and dry Monday evening as one of the city of Jackson’s water distribution sites ran out of bottled water an hour after opening.

“We just ran out at the satellite site, and we don’t have additional water for this evening,” said Rukia Lumumba, executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute, one of the groups organizing the giveaways. “The trucks that were coming in with the water were delayed and they won’t get in until tomorrow.”

“Two will get in [Tuesday] and we have a couple that will get in on Wednesday.”

Lumumba said the distribution site at Metrocenter Mall will reopen at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, while the one at Candlestick Park will again open at 5 p.m.

She didn’t know what stalled the delivery.

“Sometimes it’s the distributor, like they’re just delayed and getting on hold for whatever reason,” Lumumba said. “It’s nothing that we can control. We’re purchasing the water.”

Lumumba said the fact that the site ran out of water is a sign that people are still in need even as the city says it’s making progress digging out of the crisis that began around Christmas Eve.

She believes that even after this crisis ends, the need will still be there.

“We wake up in the morning to see... that mechanical problems need to be worked on. So, we’re not where we need to be yet,” she said. “But even after this fix, we still have the issue of clean drinking water. We won’t have to distribute as much as we’re distributing now, but we still plan to distribute water.”

As of Monday afternoon, much of Jackson was still under a precautionary boil water notice, while many others say they still have no running water to boil.

The distribution sites are stocked and worked by the city of Jackson and the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition.

About 20 pallets a day are being given out at each of the coalition’s satellite sites, while more is given out at the Dillard’s location, which is run by the city.

Each pallet contains 60 to 84 cases of bottled water, and each case has 24 to 40 bottles. Families that show up to the sites are allotted two cases, Lumumba said.

The coalition continues to seek donations from private donors, corporations and others, and has reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency for help.

Said Lumumba, “The EPA has stepped in and provided water and filters during other crises in other cities, so we’re asking the EPA to also supplement what the city [of Jackson] has and what community groups like ours have.”

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