Past water crisis at Jackson State University resulted in outpouring of community support

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Many individuals and community organizations stepped up in a show of service, as Jackson State University students, faculty and staff struggled to find clean drinking water and sanitizing agents after a brutal ice storm on Feb. 15.

Among those helping were SodexoMagic, Brown Bottling Company/Pepsi, Pinelake Church, Mississippi State University and Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church.

Jackson State University students and staff assisted with distributing donated water amid campus water crisis. Photos by Charles Smith/University Communications

During the crisis, it was difficult for students to maintain good hygiene practices as schools and most businesses were forced to close. Freezing temperatures ensured that blankets of ice and snow would last over a five-day stretch. Unlike northern states, the city of Jackson and surrounding areas were not equipped to handle the treacherous conditions.

JSU President Thomas K. Hudson and his administration took several steps to help students meet the challenge. The University installed portable showers and restrooms near residence halls to offset the lack of working showers and bathrooms.

Dining hours and food options were alternated due to the inclement weather, which impeded deliveries from JSU’s food vendors who had to prioritize service to hospitals and nursing homes.

The City of Jackson worked diligently to restore services, which is not an unfamiliar story to people in this area, thousands were left with few options.

After an estimated three weeks, Jackson State was operating at full water pressure. Still, it is the manner in which community members, groups and organizations came together in a time of crisis that is the real story.

In true JSU fashion, alumni joined local businesses and major donors and they showed up and showed out for students in need.

Jackson State University National Alumni Association president Dr. Earlexia Norwood reached out to alumnus Clyde Coleman for support. Coleman secured 2.5 pallets of water, which totals 5,782 bottles from his employer, Performance Food Group. Most of the water was sourced from its facility in Oakwood, Georgia, and delivered to JSU within 24 hours after being ordered.

“As it relates to our students, I hope this gesture will illustrate the importance of being involved with their local community and the Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc.,” Coleman said. “This is also an example of how using your resources and relationships can benefit Jackson State. It is not just vital to have the finances upon graduation, but talent and time are treasures, too.”

In addition, Norwood said, “We care about our students. JSUNAA chooses to be a part of the solution whenever our students and university need us.”

Students were elated to receive the massive amounts of help from so many people in the local community and abroad.

Daisia Davis

“It felt so good to see alumni and people in the community giving back to us students,” Daisia Davis, Miss JSU 2020-2021, said. “We definitely felt some relief as it pertained to all of the different food, snacks and resources that were being provided for us in such a short amount of time. We definitely felt appreciative since nobody saw this coming, and everybody came together to help the greater good.”

KiJana Roberts

KiJana Roberts, Mister JSU 2020-21, said. “Being in a position dedicated to service, it was nice to see local businesses, alumni and other people donate resources and their time to helping JSU students. The unexpected effects from the recent winter storm left many of us in unfortunate situations where receiving help of any kind was a blessing.”

Pinelake Church donated 235 boxes of pizza, 600 bottles of water, and 12,000 baby wipes. The college pastor, Garrett Griffith, said, he “first heard about the need from some of his members who attend JSU and immediately wanted to help.”

He also noted, “Students were very happy that we came to assist them. They were so grateful, and we were honored and blessed to be there.”

Jackson State University students and staff assisted with distributing donated water amid campus water crisis. Photos by Charles Smith/University Communications

Here’s the list of contributors:

  • The JSU Wesley Foundation
  • JSU National Alumni Association
  • Jackson State University Faculty Senate
  • Links, Incorporated-LeFleur’s Bluff (MS) Chapter
  • Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church
  • JSU Alumni Association-Madison County Chapter
  • Loving Hands Educational Services
  • RECH Foundation
  • Lone Star District Association
  • Reed Enterprises, LLC
  • First Baptist Church-Montgomery, AL
  • JSU Alpha Delta Zeta Chapter
  • Beta Alpha Chapter of Omega Phi Beta Fraternity, Inc.
  • Gary Griffith
  • Jazmin Dunlap
  • Dr. Wanda Keahey
  • The Bruce Family
  • Walmart
  • Maurice Hayes
  • Mississippi State University, Department of Housing and Residence Life
  • Mississippi State University, Fraternity and Sorority Greek Life
  • The Jernigan Family
  • Christopher Tables
  • Thaddeus and Kalia Reed
  • Union Pacific
  • Buffalo Soldier Motorcycle Group (Jackson, MS/Montgomery, AL)
  • Mrs. Charlene Bruce
  • First Baptist Church (Jackson, MS)
  • Smoothie King
  • JSU Latasha Norman Center