Diocese of Mississippi helps bring water to Jackson residents during crisis

Scott Lenoir
Posted Sep 2, 2022

Firefighters and Humana volunteers distribute water and food on Sept. 2, 2022, in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo: Steve Helber/AP

[Diocese of Mississippi] In the wake of flooding and water pump problems in Jackson, 160,000 residents are without adequate water pressure or clean drinking water.

Bishop Brian Seage wrote in a message on Aug. 31, “…the Diocese of Mississippi is providing funds to New Horizons Church in South Jackson for distribution of water. They’re perfectly positioned to [distribute] water and their location is on Ellis Avenue off Interstate 20. We’ll be sending an 18-wheeler. Funding for the truck load has come from Presiding Bishop [Michael] Curry and my discretionary fund.”

Seage said anyone wishing to contribute for another load, which costs $8,000 per truck, can make further donations to the bishop’s discretionary fund. On the diocesan website, dioms.org, look for “Giving Opportunities.”

According to a report from Mississippi Today on Sept. 1, “The goal is for the pressure at O.B. Curtis [water treatment plant] to reach 87 pounds per square inch (PSI),” according to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “The pressure had climbed back up to 80 PSI on Tuesday night [Aug. 30], but fell back to 40 PSI after setbacks on Wednesday.”

At the Allin House in Jackson, Seage wrote, “we have brownish water and some pressure. Our water pressure [at home] is lower than normal. At this point it’s enough to bathe, wash dishes and laundry.”

Like many Jackson residents, the Seages are buying water at Costco and Sam’s Club, but they haven’t tried using the bottled water distribution points set up by the city and state.

“We feel blessed we can afford to buy water. We also sent jugs of water home with friends who live in other water districts. Some people have no water service at all due to the low pressure,” Seage said.

On Sept. 1, Seage and the Rev. Cathy Halford, coordinator for the diocese’s Disaster Preparation and Response Team, had a Zoom meeting with Episcopal Relief & Development to discuss “forgotten issues” around this type of crisis.

“We are trying to imagine the long game, not just the immediate need during national media coverage,” Seage wrote.

Halford said, “If there are people unable to get to the distribution locations, please get in touch with me. DPRT may be of assistance to you. Episcopal Relief & Development has helped other cities who have experienced this same type of disaster. It is willing and ready to help fund solutions to problems which have been caused by the water outage.”

If you or your congregation has questions, please email Halford at chalford48@yahoo.com.

The Rev. Scott Lenoir is a retired priest in Gautier, Mississippi, and former editor of The Mississippi Episcopalian.