A Jackson councilman is spear heading an effort to try to assist the large number of residents he says are living without running water in their homes.
A public hearing was held Wednesday night on an ordinance designed to address the problem.
Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes has introduced an ordinance that would allow the Jackson City Council to establish a voluntary $1.00 payment to the water/sewer bills that would create an indigent assistance fund to help families in need.
It would be similar to Entergy's assistance fund.
Stokes said residents informed him of the large number of families existing without water in his ward.
He mentioned disturbing situations that pose health hazards.
"They throw the waste in the back yard or under the house," Stokes said. "In poor neighborhoods where you have rats and roaches these rats carry this waste to other places."
Jackson residents spoke at a public hearing in support of the ordinance.
Some residents fell on hard times and were behind in payments while others had expensive plumbing and pipe problems.
"Can you imagine being a senior trying to go outside, cut your water back on, cut it off, cut it on just to use your water?" said resident Geneva Johnson. "Not because the bill wasn't paid, because I couldn't afford to get the pipe fixed."
Barbara Smith said she is saddened by the sight of water running from fire hydrants into the drains in her neighborhood.
She does not have running water at her home.
"I got to go next door, across the street," Smith said. "Wonder if the neighbors didn't give me help with water? That just would be a total mess, and if that dollar can help, help a person like me."
Stokes did not have any statistics on the number of households without water but hopes a method could be in place to track them.
A Health Department official also spoke on the potential health problems to the community.
"Things like outbreaks of bacterial infections, shigella or salmonella where people need to be washing their hands, and if they don't have water they can't wash their hands and keep from spreading those diseases to use who are their neighbors," said Dr. Rebecca James, District Health Officer with the MS State Department of Health.
"We certainly would be interested in exploring a mechanism that would help the less fortunate in time of need, but ultimately it is up to the city council to propose legislation," said Chris Mims, City of Jackson Director of Communications. "As for as people without water, we are like any other city with residents who get disconnected and we make every effort to work with citizens on a case by case basis."
Stokes expects the city council to vote on the ordinance during the December 13th regular meeting.
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