The water crisis in Jackson, Miss., is disrupting even the city’s HBCU football team, as NFL Hall of Famer turned head coach at Jackson State University Deion Sanders has taken his team off-campus, searching for hotels with running water in which the student-athletes can prepare for its upcoming season-opening game on Saturday against rival HBCU Florida A&M University, USA Today reported.
“Right now, we’re operating in crisis mode,” Sanders said in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “We’re hit with a little crisis, the city of Jackson. We don’t have water. Water means we don’t have air conditioning. We can’t use toilets...I gotta get these kids off campus, the ones that live on campus. The ones that live in the city of Jackson into a hotel and accommodate them so that they can shower properly and just take care of their needs.”
By Wednesday afternoon, Sanders had posted again that the team had found hotel accommodations, but he didn’t say where.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency in Jackson, where failure of the city’s water infrastructure has left most residents and businesses with no drinkable water. The water supply is so decimated that many residents report not even being able to cook or bathe after having boiled whatever water they can get from their taps, and others unable to flush toilets.
The current water crisis is a continuation of a longstanding problem with Jackson’s dilapidated infrastructure, which for years has been known to be inadequate for residents’ needs and at risk of failure. That came to a head on Monday, when the weekend’s rains caused the city’s main water treatment plant to fail and there’s no current timeline for when it will come back online. Jackson had already been under a boil water advisory since last month. CNN reported that the Mississippi National Guard’s effort to supply residents with bottled water hit a snag when supplies ran out earlier this week.
Biden’s emergency order will allow state and local officials to more easily access federal resources, but at best, that’s a temporary for a water system in need of billions of dollars worth of repairs or upgrades.