In Jackson, Mississippi, soccer continues despite water crisis

Rain, shine, dry faucets or low water pressure, in the South the game must go on.

Some residents of Jackson, Mississippi have been without running water for days, while others have been under a boil water advisory for more than a month. But unreliable water has been a way of life in Jackson for years and that wasn’t enough to stop football fans from seeing the season open between Jackson’s two Division III schools: Millsaps College, playing as a home team, and Belhaven University as a visitor. equipment.

The players’ relatives came from out of state to support their children. They also brought boxes of water after learning about the intermittent water pressure in the dorms. Flooding of the Pearl River, which runs through Jackson, caused the failure of the city’s main water treatment plant and a struggle for clean water as the system lost pressure.

Millsaps College said Friday night that they had good water pressure. But it has been fluctuating, so the school brought portable toilets and mobile shower units in case they need to be implemented.

Once the game started, it was easy to forget about the water crisis. Hundreds of fans wearing Belhaven green and gold sat in the away bleachers. A blue Powerade sat under a man’s sneaker, while the concession stand sold bottles of condensation-covered Dasani water for $3. On the field, the benches were lined with classic green and yellow Gatorade squeeze bottles.

The rare reminder of the city’s water problems came when the game announcer thanked Infinite Insurance for providing 37,000 bottles of water for students and players.

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Belhaven freshman Alyssa Pearson came out to support her fellow Belhaven athletes after her football team beat Sul Ross State University earlier that day. Water hasn’t been a problem during the game, though the other night it was a problem after the game: After finishing the game, she was ready for a quick shower, but discovered that her bedroom no longer had water pressure. She left campus to clean up.

In Acworth, Georgia, where Pearson is from, boiling water advisories are not the norm like they are in Jackson. It’s been a tough upbringing, not hard enough for him to consider transferring, but he’s been learning what it’s like to brush your teeth with bottled water and wonder what else comes out of the shower.

“I have no idea if my toilet is going to work today or not,” Pearson said.

Dry toilet lines are new to Belhaven senior Izzy Erickson, but boiling water notices have been a constant in her four years here. She doesn’t plan on letting the crisis ruin her senior year, but she’s ready to break up with Jackson.

“I know I won’t be living here after college, so I guess I’m looking forward to that,” Erickson said.

Other seniors give the low water pressure a shrug, just another chance to embrace Belhaven’s edict of overcoming adversity. A baseball player lives off campus and lets his friends enjoy their work shower when the water flow in the dorm is more of a trickle.

Jackson State University senior Patrick Powe Jr. spends his free time delivering water to residents living in Jackson’s affordable housing communities; many residents do not have a car to get to water distribution sites or cannot afford to spend gas waiting potentially hours for collection.

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Tonight, he’s in the stands rooting for his former high school teammate who plays for Belhaven, who won the game 49-21. He has had to deal with water problems his whole life, but part of what makes this crisis different is how long it has been. Some residents have been under a boil water advisory for a month and there is no timetable for repairs. But Powe said that even if the city’s water remains undrinkable by Jackson State’s home opener on Sept. 17, he’ll still be there at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium cheering on his team.

“I’m still going to be at the vet, Jackson State from head to toe, cheering on our guys,” he said.

Copyright 2022 Gulf States Newsroom. To see more, visit the Gulf States Newsroom.


An earlier version of the web story incorrectly stated that Belhaven won the game 49-1. The score was actually 49-21.

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