Most Businesses Prepared for Water Issues | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Most Businesses Prepared for Water Issues


Jacksonian Grady Griffin worked hard to help restaurants re-open this week.

Most Jackson businesses are well-prepared for low or nonexistent water pressure, having weathered a nearly week-long crisis in January. Most restaurants are open and hospitals are maintaining regular operations with a few adjustments.

Jackson restaurants seem to be ready for the disruption.

"I think they're as prepared as they possibly can be and better prepared today, in light of what happened in Jackson (this winter)," Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association Education Director Grady Griffin said. "We've had very few phone calls coming into the office; I think they know what the procedures are, and we've got all that information out there on our website, Twitter and Facebook. It seems to be going smoothly today."

Restaurants can stay open with low water pressure, as long as they can operate bathrooms.

"What we've heard so far is that everybody has some degree of pressure, which is a lot easier to deal with versus having none whatsoever," Griffin said. "We haven't heard of anybody that's completely out."

Downtown, Scurlock's Donuts on Pearl Street has been unaffected, owner Mark Scurlock said. Scurlock prepares the food for his downtown shop at his other location on Robinson Road, and he said his water pressure was normal this morning.

Around the corner, Steve's Downtown Deli has adequate water pressure, but is boiling water and only serving bottled drinks, owner Steve Long said.

Broad Street Baking Company's location is at one of the highest points in the city in Banner Hall on Interstate 55, puts it at a disadvantage during water line breaks. Owners Jeff Good and Dan Blumenthal informed customers by e-mail this morning that the restaurant started the day without any water pressure but is using bottled water for cooking.

Across the interstate, Newk's Express Cafe has sufficient pressure to operate bathrooms but is boiling water as a precaution. The restaurant is also using water trucked in from other, unaffected franchise locations in Ridgeland, Clinton, Brandon and Flowood.

Steve Caulk, Newk's vice president for company operations, said that the company has had practice in dealing with water service outages.

"The main thing we learned from this winter is how to go into safety and sanitation practices that pertain to the boil water (alert)--following the alerts on the Health Department's website and making sure that we're in compliance with everything," Caulk said. "What we do is shut everything down that has anything to do with water, and we (rely on) of some of our sister restaurants that aren't on the water restriction to provide some services."

The Jackson Medical Mall has seen its water pressure largely restored, but some tenants have elected to close or reduce operations for the day.

Tom Fortner, University of Mississippi Medical Center's chief communications officer, said that UMMC's dialysis operations in the Medical Mall have already moved to the main campus as a precaution. UMMC's main campus uses a well system for its water supply, which is not affected.

Fortner said the center's chief concern with its Medical Mall clinics was the air conditioning system, which needs adequate water pressure to run its chillers.

"Last time, during the winter storm, we brought in portable toilets, but air conditioning wasn't an issue then. But it is now," Fortner said. "So the temperatures are rising there internally. ... We have our cancer clinics there, and we're trying to come up with some contingency plans for keeping our radiation equipment operating. That's something we'll be working on for the rest of the day."

Baptist Hospital on North State Street experienced low water pressure earlier in the day and began implementing contingency plans, but its water pressure has since risen. The hospital is currently operating all facilities, spokesman Robby Channell said.

"We had prepared for the tanker trucks to come," Channell said. "We already had water being delivered, so we were prepared."

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