The story of power loss in Texas made headlines.
It should have.
But the cold hit Mississippi hard too and if didn’t make the national news.
Jackson, Mississippi is 80% Black.
The same winter storms which crippled Houston brought record low temperatures to Jackson and other parts of Mississippi. Thousands of Jackson’s residents still remain without water, most of them Black. A boil order is in effect and there is no timeline for restoration.
The cold weather is the immediate cause.
But Mississippi is the poorest state in the country. And that is old news.
The Guardian reports, “Mississippi, American’s poorest state, has long faced chronic infrastructure problems. A 2020 report card published by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state a D+ grade, noting decaying systems across roads, energy, solid waste and a host of other essential services. On its drinking water systems, the report noted some were losing as much as 50% of treated water due to breakages and that certain systems were still dependent on pipes laid in the 1920s. “Many of these networks have aged past their useful life span,” the report notes.”
There is no question that racism is at play here.
So is the impact of climate change.
Jackson’s Mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba made clear that the changing climate was making everything worse, demonstrating how climate change is a race issue too.
“One thing that is clear is that our winters are colder, our summers are hotter and the rain we experience is more abundant,” he said, pointing out that the city’s outdoor water treatment facility was simply not built to endure the cold. “And so not only do we need this investment because of the ageing infrastructure we need this investment because of the increased pressure that these extreme weather conditions are taking.”
So, while Congress dicks around over pennies in Covid relief, what the present crisis calls for is billions in infrastructure.