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Jackson, Mississippi residents have lived two weeks without water following winter storm

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Mississippi's largest city is still without full access to water after sub-zero temperatures severely damaged its aging infrastructure. Jackson, a city of mostly Black residents, is the only city in the state still having issues. Janet Shamlian has more on the growing frustration.

Video Transcript

- Extreme weather is also creating a water crisis in Mississippi's largest city. The huge winter storm that devastated much of the country last month has also left Jackson, Mississippi without drinkable water for the past two weeks. The National Guard was called to Jackson to distribute water to its 160,000 people, and our Janet Shamlian is there.

JANET SHAMLIAN: Eddie Mitchell has been coming to this distribution site for two weeks to get these jugs filled with water he can't even drink.

EDDIE MITCHELL: Just for flushing. We don't wash dishes with it or nothing.

JANET SHAMLIAN: The 75-year-old veteran is among thousands in Jackson about to enter their third week without full access to water. How hard is it on people here?

EDDIE MITCHELL: Some people don't have water-- I mean, don't have a vehicle to come get water. Be here at 5:30 or 6:00 this afternoon when the line stretches around the corner.

JANET SHAMLIAN: There's such desperation, some drivers seeing this spouting pipe, pulled off a busy road to fill buckets. The entire city whose residents are 82% Black is under a boil water notice. The unprecedented mid-February freeze strained Jackson's aging system, dozens of pipes burst. Charles Williams is the public works director. What is the status of getting water back to the people in the city?

CHARLES WILLIAMS: Well, we feel like a majority of the city has received water pressure back. So that is a good thing, but we are concerned about our residents who live farthest away from the plant.

JANET SHAMLIAN: City leaders say it could cost more than $2 billion to fix the infrastructure, in a city with a $300 million budget. Communities nearby dealt with similar outages after the storm, but Jackson is the only Mississippi city still struggling with water weeks later.

SUMMER WILLIAMS: The city wasn't prepared and there was no warning about there not being water. It just stopped working unexpectedly.

JANET SHAMLIAN: Summer Williams, eight months pregnant, wants more definitive answers for her growing family.

SUMMER WILLIAMS: Because I'm due soon and only thing that's on my mind is how I'm going to handle it when the baby gets here.

JANET SHAMLIAN: As the city works to repair water main breaks, Jackson's mayor says, they need help from the state and federal government to update the system, but the people we've talked to here say they need a different kind of help. They feel like they are not seeing the mass distributions of drinkable water that they've seen in other cities. Anthony.

ANTHONY MASON: Two weeks without drinking water. Janet, thank you very much.