(Jackson, Miss.) – A project that has been ongoing for more than a year is finally becoming a reality for citizens in Schlater, Mississippi in rural Leflore County. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, August 27, at 11 a.m. for a new water well to serve the community.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) was awarded a $63,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services to provide a new water well for citizens in the area.
The well was lost due to the historic flooding last year, and residents have been without water since July 2019. Due to the lack of running water, the families have faced indescribable challenges to sanitation, safe housing, and health and safety.
“It’s hard to imagine communities being without basic necessities, especially during the pandemic we’re facing,” said MDHS Executive Director Robert G. “Bob” Anderson. “Hygiene is critical for the health and welfare of everyone right now.”
Families refused to relocate due to the lack of resources and their desire to remain on family land. Local community action agency, Central Mississippi, Inc. (CMI), and the local fire department provided thousands of gallons of water and bottled water to residents to offer some relief, however, families had to heat this water to bathe and wash dishes, and must pour water into toilets to flush them.
MDHS was contacted by CMI to inquire about possible funding. The MDHS Division of Community Services, under the leadership of Division Director Tina Ruffin, applied for Community Services Block Grant Disaster Supplemental funds being offered through DHHS. Funding was approved, however, MDHS had to apply for a special one-time waiver to use the funds for this particular purpose. MDHS received approval of the waiver this week and will proceed with the project.
MDHS and CMI will offer case management services to the families to address other issues they face such as employment, education, and housing, and to provide referrals to other local and state resources such as SNAP, TANF, Head Start, Aging services, Transportation, etc.
“It brings tremendous pride when you’re able to help entire communities recover from times of hardship,” Anderson said. “This is a prime example of providing tangible assistance today to create a lasting hope for tomorrow.”
For more information on the Mississippi Department of Human Services and the services they provide, go to https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/.