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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Samuel Brand, right, carries a case of water bottles Princess Brooks, left, donated to Orchard Park SDA church during a water bottle drive to help residents of Jackson, Mississippi, who have been without water for nearly a month, after freezing temperatures burst water mains in February on Saturday, March 13, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Area churches mobilized in the past week to address the ongoing water crisis in Mississippi, where some residents have gone a month without clean water following a winter storm in February.

Last weekend, Orchard Park Seventh-day Adventist Church hosted a drive on its church campus for people to drop off water donations. The church in Orchard Knob partnered with First Baptist Church and Southern Adventist University to deliver water to communities nearly 400 miles away.

Troy Brand, senior pastor at Orchard Park, said he was shocked with the level of generosity and support from the community.

"What we thought would be one truck full of water, what we thought would be a nice deed, became three U-Haul trucks," he said.

Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, were advised to boil their water before consumption after a series of winter storms in February damaged local water infrastructure. For weeks, some residents did not have running water at all, according to the Associated Press.

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Water crisis help

Brand said notice about the donation campaign was sent through the Kingdom Partners network in Chattanooga last week.

At the same time, Southern Adventist University put a notice out to its campus to collect donations as part of the effort, said Stephanie Guster, senior advisor for diversity to the president. Someone from campus volunteered to drive the truck to Mississippi, she said.

Guster said Christians are called to care for those in need and this was a great opportunity to live out the lessons of the Bible.

"The gospel mandate, 'Go ye into all the world,' there's no geographic or demographic limit on that, even if it's two states away," she said. "Christ's calling is to help everyone in need."

Brand said he was reminded of the people and donations that came to Chattanooga last April when the region was rocked by a series of tornadoes that left nine people dead and caused millions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses.

"People just helped us out here in Chattanooga. It becomes reciprocal, especially when you know something is going to be lasting a long time. I think it was critical to give them some help," Brand said.

On Sunday morning, Brand rode down to Mississippi to drop off the donations. People were already lining up to get water, he said. The Chattanooga area, he estimated, delivered around a dozen pallets of water to Mississippi.

Contact Wyatt Massey at wmassey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @news4mass.

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