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Gov. Reeves and Mayor Lumumba stand side-by-side for first time since water crisis began

·3 min read

The mayor of Jackson and governor of Mississippi appeared together for the first time Thursday since much of the city lost access to running water Monday.

At a news conference, Gov. Tate Reeves and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, emphasized unity between the city and the state in addressing the present crisis with water pressure in the city.

"I believe that my representation here is a symbol of the unity that has taken place," Lumumba said. "Right now what we are focused on is this unified effort to get some help to the citizens of Jackson."

Whether that unity will continue to address the myriad of other problems the city's water and sewer systems face is another matter which remains to be seen.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (center) briefs the media concerning the ongoing water crisis at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson, Miss., on Sep. 1, 2022. This is the first time that the governor and Jackson’s mayor Cokwe Antar Lumumba (right) have been seen together since the water crisis.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (center) briefs the media concerning the ongoing water crisis at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson, Miss., on Sep. 1, 2022. This is the first time that the governor and Jackson’s mayor Cokwe Antar Lumumba (right) have been seen together since the water crisis.

The press conference was called to announce the opening of seven new water distribution sites staffed by the national guard. Those sites will include the State Fairgrounds. That said, attention and questions seemed to focus on how the state and local governments were working together, and whether the state has done enough to address Jackson's water and sewer issues.

Related:Jackson mayor says he will drink city's water once boil notice ends. He trusts city's water.

GALLERY:Jackson, MS Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba welcomes state assistance during water crisis

Lumumba said the extensive issues the city faces, which go beyond water pressure, will need funds far above the revenue the city collects, but he is grateful for the help the state has provided on this specific issue.

"The City of Jackson needs resources and money," Lumumba said. "When the state comes to me and says 'we're coming to help you,' it doesn't benefit to take jabs at each other."

Reeves said there will be time later to address disagreement between the state and city over the wider issues with the water system and who is responsible for funding the solutions.

"There'll be plenty of time in the future to play the blame game and y'all can do all of that you want to do, you can do it in real time if you want to, but I ain't got time for it. I am focused on making sure that the health and welfare of the citizens of Jackson, Mississippi is taken care of and the way in which you do that is through exactly what you're seeing today," Reeves said.

The city is set to bring in millions of dollars in federal funds for water and sewer systems from the American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but it will not be enough to bring the city in line with two consent decrees with the Environmental Protection Agency. The state legislature earlier this year required Jackson to receive approval for ARPA spending. It is the only city in Mississippi with that requirement.

Reeves also put out a warning to potential criminals in the city, pointing out the increased national guard and state highway patrol presence in the city.

"It is never a good time to commit a crime anywhere, but this is a really really bad time to commit a crime in the city of Jackson, I can assure you," Reeves said.

The national guard staffed water distribution sites announced at the news conference will be:

  • State Fairgrounds,1207 Mississippi Street, Jackson

  • Metro Center Mall, 3645 Highway 80, Jackson

  • Smith Wills Stadium, 1200 Lakeland Dr., Jackson

  • Thomas Cardozo Middle School, 3180 McDowell RD Ext., Jackson

  • Northwest Jackson Middle School, 7020 Highway 49, Jackson

  • Hinds Community College Jackson, 3925 Sunset Drive, Jackson

  • Davis Road Park, 2300 Davis Road, Terry, MS 39170

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Jackson mayor and Mississippi governor appear together for first time