No 'definitive timeline' when water will return to Jackson, Mississippi: Mayor

"We continue to ask for your patience," Jackson's public works director said.

February 19, 2021, 6:49 PM

As power and water outages rock the South, among the hard-hit cities is Jackson, Mississippi, where most residents face little to no water pressure.

"We do not have a definitive timeline as to when the water will be restored within the tanks," Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said at a news conference Thursday. "We are continuing to pump into the tanks and we are continuing to try to recover."

"This becomes increasingly challenging" due to the pandemic, Lumumba said, because so many residents are at home instead of school, which means people are trying to use water at a higher rate than usual.

PHOTO: A sign warns motorists after a sudden heavy bout of snow and frozen rain on MS Highway 463 in Madison, north of Jackson, Miss., Feb. 15, 2021.
A sign warns motorists after a sudden heavy bout of snow and frozen rain on MS Highway 463 in Madison, north of Jackson, Miss., Feb. 15, 2021.
Barbara Gauntt/clarion-ledger/via Reuters

Jackson Public Works Director Charles Williams said the length of the cold snap in Jackson has taken a toll on the water production.

"Hopefully by this weekend you will start seeing some pressure build back up and water will slowly be restored," Williams said Thursday, adding that it's difficult to give a timeline because the weather impacts are "unpredictable."

PHOTO: Lineman Sean Gregory stretches for a cable as he repairs a transformer in Jackson, Miss., Feb. 18, 2021.
Lineman Sean Gregory stretches for a cable as he repairs a transformer in Jackson, Miss., Feb. 18, 2021.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP

"We continue to ask for your patience," Williams said. "We're working around the clock."

On Friday, Williams told reporters there was some progress in the city's water pressure, but it was still hard to predict when people will get their water back. Those who live closer to the city's two water plants should expect to have water sooner than those who live farther away, he said.

Water main breaks are another concern; as of Friday afternoon, there were 13 in the city, with more expected as the ice and snow melts, Williams said.

"We hope that it does not increase very much because that will delay some of the recovery process," he said.

A boil water notice was issued Thursday.

Jackson officials are offering water distribution at several sites Friday.

Besides the water emergency, between 18,000 to 19,000 customers in Jackson were without power Thursday, largely due to limbs falling on power lines as a result of freezing rain, the mayor said.

Lumumba warned that roads are still topped with ice and urged caution while driving to get basic necessities.

"This is the time ... to help one another, especially our most vulnerable constituents," City Council President Aaron Banks said.

After a week of historic and disastrous snow, ice and cold in the South, the freezing temperatures will soon lift. A hard freeze warning is in effect in Mississippi Friday morning but temperatures are expected to rise this weekend.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso and Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

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