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We must be willing to invest in Vicksburg’s stability and future water needs

“What a difference a week makes?” That was the phrase many were using late last week as our community was basking in springtime temperatures, with clear skies and, thankfully, clear, ice-free streets.

The week before, we were dealing with several inches of ice on our homes and streets. Power was still out for many in our community and first responders went from patrolling neighborhoods and responding to emergencies to transporting front-line medical workers to the hospital and nursing homes, and patients in desperate need of getting to their dialysis appointments.

From one week to the next saw temperature swings of nearly 50 degrees, giving a good reason other than “the COVID” for some of us to have the sniffles, aches and pains.

But in that week, it also gave us time to look back, take stock and evaluate just how our community handled what is hopefully a once-in-a-generation ice storm.

For many, it was a reminder that when generators next go on sale to get one. It was also a reminder that weather forecasts are not always pie-in-the-sky predictions and to stock up on the essentials before the roads are covered in inches of ice.

It is also a reminder of just how blessed our community is to have its local leadership, emergency services and public servants.

When the roads were beyond dangerous, emergency officials — including top-line leaders such as Police and Fire Chiefs, Sheriff, Emergency Management Directors and others — were on call and at the ready to respond to those who needed rides and those who needed help. This response required all hands on deck and all the hands showed up.

It was also impressive to see city officials, including Mayor George Flaggs Jr., delivering medical personnel to work and back home again.

There were times when Flaggs and others were running needed supplies — including baby formula — to those who were trapped in their homes by the severe winter weather.

While there is plenty to be proud of, there is work that needs to be done to ensure problems that popped up during the storm and after do not show up again. Top of that list is the city’s water service, and it is a problem that has been placed in the spotlight by Flaggs and other city officials.

We agree the city’s current facility is not up to par and if it is not performing to the level that it is supposed to, then it not only needs to be fixed, it must be fixed and quickly. We can no longer afford problems with our city’s water service. It not only affects the lives of our friends and neighbors, but when the water system is down, or when a boil water notice is in place, Vicksburg loses crucial business.

Flaggs has long said the city must invest in the city’s water service, including looking at adding a second facility to meet both residential and industrial growth.

He not only said that again last week after the water system had resumed normal operations but said it long before the winter storm struck and the leaks developed. He was right then, and he is right now.

Elected officials rarely like to see money spent on infrastructure projects because they are often out of sight and out of mind.

In this case, Flaggs has taken a bold step in advocating for that work and the need to invest taxpayer dollars in both the present-day stability of Vicksburg’s water system and the city’s future growth.