After the thaw, water troubles continue to plague communities across the South
As white snow patches become dirty roadside blotches, the South is still feeling the effects of last week's ice storm.
The melting ice hasn't ended the infrastructure problems that were revealed in the frigid temperatures. For so many residents from Jackson, Mississippi, to Shreveport, Louisiana, to West Tennessee, the broken water mains, drinking water shortages, low faucet pressure and fears of flooding may create problems that last much longer than the week-long deep freeze.
Large swaths of the South have boil water advisories because officials are concerned about the levels of bacteria in the drinking water.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Kelly Richardson said county officials are reaching out for supplies as they assess the damage the storm left behind.
“The biggest request that we’re getting right now is, as you can imagine, water,” she said.
Officials in 10 counties have reported damage to homes and businesses as of Tuesday, but more reports are expected in the coming days. Bailey Martin, press secretary for Gov. Tate Reeves, said Mississippi must hit a threshold of $4.5 million in damages before it can request a federal disaster declaration.
Thousands of customers across the state also remain under boil water advisories as officials try to get their water systems fully operational. Dozens of systems either froze or lost power during the storms, impacting more than 300,000 customers statewide.
In one sign of progress, an advisory in Canton, Mississippi, one of the largest cities in the Jackson area, was lifted late Monday after its system lost pressure Thursday.
Jackson Public Works Director Charles Williams said Monday that crews, now that temperatures are warmer, are attempting to address several water main breaks across the city. Roughly 43,000 customers still have little to no pressure, and Williams said full service across the city may not be restored until Friday.
Thousands of residents in Shreveport and Bossier are without water so the Louisiana House of Representatives voted to send $150,000 worth of bottled water to the area.
Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, coordinated the House's effort.
“Members around the state were quick to act once we heard water service in Shreveport was an issue,” Schexnayder said. “In a matter of hours, they had water and transportation provided by businesses around the state. It’s been a real team effort.”
In Memphis, the Light, Gas and Water department averaged finding about 10 water main breaks per day since Feb. 15 with a total of 77 main breaks reported. Twenty-five percent of water wells were not operational.
Around Memphis, the Mallory, Sheahan, Allen and Davis water pumping stations were not operational, according to the MLGW report issued Tuesday.
Keisha Rowe of the Clarion Ledger and Scott Ferrell of the Shreveport Times contributed to this report