Szczech said FEMA does not need anything further from the state or local government at this time.
Y’all Politics spoke briefly this afternoon with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 4 Administrator Gracia Szczech as the state and federal government are now assisting in the city of Jackson’s water crisis.
Szczech said she was supportive of the state seeking the federal declaration, noting that her office has been in “constant communication” with Stephen McCraney, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
The FEMA Administrator said her office spoke with Governor Tate Reeves last night for an update and calls were being made to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba today.
“We are working with MEMA right now in guiding them to what we can help assist in regards to looking at that infrastructure at the water treatment plant,” Szczech said.
Szczech said with President Joe Biden’s approval of the emergency declaration, FEMA can bring other federal agencies to both assess the water treatment facilities and distribute commodities to the public. She said they will continue the conversations with MEMA as the state has engineers on site currently.
For now, FEMA has a person on site in Jackson at the emergency operations center established by MEMA and the federal coordinating officer that will head up FEMA’s response will be on site later today.
Szczech said FEMA does not need anything further from the state or local government at this time. She said this is going to take time to review and assess the situation with MEMA’s assistance but currently engineers are looking to make temporary repairs which is where FEMA comes in with their ability to make federal reimbursements with the declaration now in place.
As for how Jackson got here, Szczech said she could not answer that, saying it is going to be a big effort with many players to solve it now.
“It’s going to be a big effort with various agencies whether at the state, local and federal level to help resolve this issue,” Szczech said.