A water and supplies drive will be hosted in the city to respond to the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Randall Woodfin announced during a Birmingham City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Last week, the main water treatment plant in Jackson failed, leaving residents with little or no clean water or water pressure. According to NPR, a similar incident occurred last year when severe storms left the city without access to water. In the winter of 2021, ice covered a large portion of Jackson and destroyed much of the city’s water system.
“I think we all know what’s been happening in Jackson, Mississippi over the last few weeks that is now national news … We stand with the people of Jackson,” Mayor Woodfin said.
The drive began on Tuesday and will continue until Thursday, Sept. 8. For those who want to contribute to the drive, Mayor Woodfin suggests bringing bottled water, cleaning supplies and paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels. The drop-off location is Boutwell Auditorium at 1930 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35203.
The mayor also announced that National Suicide Prevention Week, running from Sept. 4 to Sept. 10, will be recognized by the city. He encouraged Birmingham residents to look into the efforts of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Woodfin invited Meesha Emmett, chair of the organization’s Alabama chapter, to speak on the issue.
“I lost my husband [to suicide]on Aug. 20, 2018 … My family and I live with this every day … Tell your story … For a long time, I didn’t. But I am [now]. It’s a real thing; it affects me every day,” Emmett said.
She said if people knew anyone who needed to talk about their experiences, the AFSP would be there to speak with them. She said when she drove to Birmingham on Monday night that seeing the city hall lit up blue to show support for Suicide Prevention Month was a powerful moment for her.
“I want to say thank you … for making mental health a priority in the great city of Birmingham, and thank you for joining AFSP in this fight to end suicide and create a community that is smart about mental health,” Emmett said.
Mayor Woodfin also spoke candidly about gun violence in the city. He said that a “you hit me, I hit you back” mentality is the motivation behind much of this violence in the city and it is leaving devastation in its wake.
He referred to the murder of a 23-year-old woman who, according to AL.com, was Birmingham’s seventh homicide victim since last Friday.
Crystal Smitherman, president pro tempore of the Birmingham City Council, said a lack of community support tends to lead people to think they have to retaliate when they are victims of violence. She said conflict-resolution efforts would take time but suggested that peace walks would be a good way for people to get out in the community more and show support to those who have experienced trauma.
“I would like us to use our neighborhood meetings to be productive. Talk to us for two minutes and say, ‘I’m seeing this in my community,’” said Smitherman. “[But] we also have to realize the reality of snitching, because some people can get shot for snitching, so we have to find a balance as well.”