Updated Aug 30, 2022 - Science

Mississippi flood prompts National Guard deployment, schools move online

Operation Good hands out a case of water to a resident in Jackson, Mississippi on March 24, 2022.

Operation Good hands out bottled water in Jackson, Mississippi on March 24, 2022. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

The flooding crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, is causing schools and local governments to shift their weekly plans as residents remain unable to drink fresh water.

The big picture: The Pearl River flood has caused water pressure issues in Mississippi's capital city, leaving many residents without running water. The crisis is now taking a toll on cities, residents and local sports teams.

Driving the news: Residents of Jackson can't currently "flush toilets, fight fires and meet other critical needs" due to the flooding, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Tuesday.

  • The governor announced a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist the city.
  • Dr. Daniel P. Edney, the state's health officer, said the city of Jackson should work with state response teams and contractors who will soon arrive to help, per WLBT.

State of play: Jackson Public Schools said they would shift toward virtual learning on Aug. 30. The school system said it would announce an in-person return when it is safe to do so. JPS did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

  • Deion Sanders, head coach of the Jackson State football team, said they are facing "a little crisis" from the flooding and may have to cancel or move practice, Sports Illustrated reports.
  • "We are hit with a little crisis in the city of Jackson," Sanders said.  "We don't have water.  No water means we don't have air conditioning.  Can't use the toilet... we don't have ice, which pretty much places a burden on the program."
  • The City of Jackson said in a statement Monday that it would declare a water system emergency.

Amid the ongoing crisis, Jackson’s public works director, Marlin King, has been reassigned despite the ongoing water crisis. His replacement wasn't made clear and it is unknown where he will be reassigned, WLBT reports.

The big picture: Heavy rains caused the Pearl River to swell and crest at 35.4 feet, lower than the major flood stage level of 36 feet — which it exceeded two years ago when it reached 37 feet as flooding devastated Jackson, per the National Weather Service.

  • While the latest flooding in Jackson wasn't as bad as expected, it still shook power lines, inundated soccer fields with several inches of water and partially submerged vehicles, AP reports.

Context: Studies show global warming is intensifying extreme precipitation events worldwide and causing them to be more frequent, per Axios' climate reporter Andrew Freedman.

Worth noting: Jackson has for years had issues with its drinking water and there's been a boil-water notice since late July after tests showed water quality was "cloudy," sparking health concerns, per AP.

  • Jackson would need around $200 million to fix the city's water system, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said last week. The whole state has a $75 million budget to improve its water systems, the AP reports.
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