Small town Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, has been enduring three weeks without water amidst dangerous heat waves – being forced to use water bottles. Both officials and residents express frustration at the lack of assistance.
It began when a water line broke on June 25th, leaving the community without clean water for hours – which only worsened as the heat boiled the water causing officials to issue a warning. For the next month, more pipes broke and leaked.
Mayor Christopher Franklin isn’t surprised by the incident, as the town’s infrastructure is old and aging. He adds that their current funding isn’t enough to completely fix their piping system, causing Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders taking out a loan to help them – which still isn’t enough.
Frustrations And Lingering Hope
Franklin has been trying to look for aid, but notes their lack of assistance can be attributed to their community being mostly Black. He adds that although he doesn’t like begging, it’s crucial for them to receive outside help.
Residents and officials weren’t satisfied with the lack of outside help, but were also unsurprised. Franklin says he’s committed to providing the necessary quality care his community needs, and fighting for their rights to receive equal treatment.
Zenovia Martin-Smith expresses how they haven’t received help in weeks because of their color, noting it’s already the third week since the incident happened – yet nothing changed.
He contacted Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman, but was unhappy with their response. Luckily, Franklin was able to get in contact with the Arkansa National Guard, Red Cross, Walmart, and Dollar General who immediately provided them aid.
Chief of Staff, James Valley, notes a majority of these issues stemmed from the extremely old and neglected infrastructure. He notes that these slow approaches of assistance happened in other states as well, namely Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi.
Source: NBC News