Federal disaster declared for Jackson water crisis: Now what?

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Jackson water crisis is catching national attention. And it’s officially a federal disaster.

Here’s how we got here. The Jackson Mayor declared a water system emergency Monday night. Tuesday morning the Department of Health issued an emergency order. The Governor declared a state of emergency soon after. And by Tuesday night, the President signed off on the state’s federal disaster declaration request. That means…money to help handle the immediate problems.

“That’s at a 75% federal funding cost share for a period of 90 days,” noted FEMA 4 Administrator Gracia Szczech.

State leaders are glad the state won’t be on the hook for the full bill. Still, they know it’s not the end-all-be all.

“Well, the action by President Biden is absolutely positive,” noted Sen. David Blount. “And it was immediate. And we’re thankful for that. But ultimately, we all know that the city and the state are going to have to come together on a long-term solution.”

That’s something legislative leadership seems ready to do. Speaker Philip Gunn says he’s not encouraging the Governor to call a special session but is discussing possible plans for legislation with the Jackson delegation.

“It is our capital city,” noted Gunn. “It is the face of Mississippi, if you will it is where people come to transact business with the state government. And so we want it to be a shining star. We want it to be a city that we can all be proud of. So we’re going to be having to focus a lot of time and attention on solving this issue.”

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says Senate members started looking at potential plans about a week ago.

“I think if you look at this, compartmentalize, we have to stop the bleeding going on right now,” described Hosemann. “Then we need to adopt a plan through the federal and the state in the city, then we need to find out who’s going to run that plan and exercise it and get it done. And then also who’s going to pay for it.”

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