‘My mental tank hit an overload’: Jackson lawmaker opens up about stress of latest water crisis

Ronnie Crudup, Jr.
Ronnie Crudup, Jr.(Ronnie Crudup, Jr. / Facebook)
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 10:18 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - When Jackson’s main water treatment plant failed in late August, Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr. was ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

He’d been through it all before.

As a local lawmaker and the son of a prominent pastor, he’s led efforts to get water to his constituents during both of Jackson’s recent water crises.

But this time around, something was different.

“I’m normally very optimistic in pretty much all situations,” he wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “But this latest water situation is getting the best of me. Y’all pray for me and my Jackson neighbors.”

“I know I’m struggling, others are also.”

Crudup, who was elected in 2019, wasn’t sure why the latest water crisis had impacted him in such a way when he reflected on his social media post in an interview with WLBT.

“Maybe it was because of the holidays. I think because you kind of end the year in a, you know, jovial mood, you try to be celebratory, and all of a sudden this happens,” he said. “And, so, Christmas Eve is when my water went completely out. I haven’t had water since that Saturday evening. So, it made Christmas a little more difficult.”

Jackson latest water crisis ruined Christmas for many residents this year, after a severe cold snap ripped across the area, freezing and breaking numerous water mains in the city’s distribution system.

As a result of those breaks, pressure in the system dropped, leaving tens of thousands of people without running water.

“We still cooked and ate, but we couldn’t clean the house up, we couldn’t do dishes,” he said. “Now, we’re having to spend a lot of money on eating out, on gas to go to other places, things that we didn’t plan on doing... My plan was kind of to catch the after-Christmas sales for the kids, but... we kind of put that on the back burner, because we wanted to make sure we got all of our other things taken care of.”

Crudup says adding to the challenge this time was the fact that many companies that helped him line up water previously were closed for the holidays.

Meanwhile, the state did far less to help than it did during the August/September crisis, when Gov. Tate Reeves mobilized the Mississippi National Guard and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to distribute water.

This time around, the state provided non-potable water at the fairgrounds, but has been far less involved.

It’s a fact not lost on Crudup.

“The mayor and the governor haven’t seen eye-to-eye on the situation, and, so, I kind of knew going in we were going to be on our own,” he said. “I did make a phone call to MEMA to see if they had anything left from [the last crisis] but I haven’t heard anything back yet.”

MEMA and the Mississippi State Department of Health did deploy their drone pilots, who used drones and infrared technologies to help the city find underground main breaks.

However, it was unclear what other help the state had provided as of Friday evening.

Four days into the crisis, Crudup shared a “transparent moment,” on Facebook, telling friends that his “mental tank hit an overload and I almost lost hope.”

“When Jackson loses water pressure, I usually lose water completely, but I understand my position of leadership, so I make phone calls to set up water drives and etc.,” he wrote. “I know how to get my toilets to flush, and my family understands the process of using the restrooms, but my sewage line backed up yesterday and all flushing abilities stopped.”

He thanked a friend for reaching out to him who allowed him to open up. He says he’s leaned on friends and his faith to help him through.

“One of my friends is getting his Ph.D. in psychology, so I was able to talk with him... about some things,” Crudup said. “He just kind of asked the right question and he kind of let me vent my frustrations.”

He also shared another post on Facebook, a scripture that “was planted in my spirit... as a reminder and encouragement.”

The verse, from Philippians, states, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ.”

“You just do the best you can to make it through,” he said. “My kids are watching. I’ve got three children and a wife, and so, they’re watching my every move and how I handle this.”

“I’m trying to make sure I handle it in a positive manner that they deal with it in the right manner, too.”

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