Walter Houston unloads a crate of water bottles donated in Jackson, Mississippi, by the Salvation Army to Mississippi Industries for the Blind.

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Walter Houston unloads a crate of water bottles donated in Jackson, Mississippi, by the Salvation Army to Mississippi Industries for the Blind.

Leslie Gamboni for NPR

The short-term solution to the water problem in Jackson, Mississippi has been free drive-thru bottled water pickup sites.

But it’s a problem for people who have no way to get in the water, like April Williams. Her car has been broken down for a week and it will probably take another before the part she needs can arrive. On Thursday, she was down to half a case of bottled water in an apartment with three adults and two young children.

“The main thing we need is a fight right now,” Williams said. “You’d be surprised how much water you need to survive.”

Jackson residents without transportation — or gas money to burn in some cases for hours — have felt abandoned during the city’s water crisis. Local nonprofits have provided water directly to some residents, but they are still working to scale up to deal with a problem that is spreading across the city.

Michelle Hartfield, public information officer for the Salvation Army, takes notes as Booker Ellis, Chris Bonham and Walter Houston unload water donated by the Salvation Army to Mississippi Industries for the Blind Thursday.

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Michelle Hartfield, public information officer for the Salvation Army, takes notes as Booker Ellis, Chris Bonham and Walter Houston unload water donated by the Salvation Army to Mississippi Industries for the Blind Thursday.

Leslie Gamboni for NPR

Bottles of water donated by the Salvation Army are placed outside an apartment.

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Bottles of water donated by the Salvation Army are placed outside an apartment.

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City agencies like the fire department have passed the names of low-income neighborhoods where transportation options are scarce to the Salvation Army. So the aid group found Williams about a mile west of Jackson State University and gave her several cases.

The water pressure has now been mostly restored in Jackson. But a boil water advisory remains across the city. Williams kept her tub filled with water in case she needed it to flush the toilet.

Dorthy Young drank one of his last three palm-sized water bottles when the Salvation Army arrived. She is 85 years old and cannot get around without a walker or wheelchair. A neighbor who saw the Salvation Army truck pass asked for crates to be dropped off at Young’s door. Cleaning the dishes piled up in his sink was his priority after getting clean water.

“I worry because you can’t clean your dishes,” Young said.

Dorthy Young grabs a bottle of water from her bedside table.

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Dorthy Young grabs a bottle of water from her bedside table.

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Young sits at home after receiving a delivery of water bottles provided by the Salvation Army.

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Young sits at home after receiving a delivery of water bottles provided by the Salvation Army.

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The city has partnered with the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition, a collaboration of aid groups in Jackson, to distribution sites and home deliveries. Jackson has dealt with boil water advisories for decades, so nonprofits are used to home water deliveries.

But those past advisories were only in pockets of the city — the groups were unprepared for Jackson’s entire water supply to be at risk. This week, the coalition plans to speed up home deliveries. Although there is no specific timeline for repairs to the city’s failing water treatment plant, the coalition plans to continue providing safe drinking water for weeks.

“We know we are going to boil water during the repairs,” said Rukia Lumumba, executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute. She is also the sister of Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “We’re going to need clean water from somewhere outside the pipes.”

Springboard to Opportunities works with five affordable housing communities in Jackson. Aisha Nyandoro, the group’s chief executive, has spent much of the past week on the phone looking for water to deliver to the families she works with. She eventually contacted an Alabama sheriff who personally lowered a large load with multiple pallets of water on Thursday.

Mississippi Industries for the Blind employee Booker Ellis and Salvation Army employee Walter Houston unload water donated by the Salvation Army to Jackson.

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Mississippi Industries for the Blind employee Booker Ellis and Salvation Army employee Walter Houston unload water donated by the Salvation Army to Jackson.

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Salvation Army employee Andrew Jennings waves to the driver of a truck full of water for distribution in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Jackson.

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Salvation Army employee Andrew Jennings waves to the driver of a truck full of water for distribution in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Jackson.

Leslie Gamboni for NPR

Families in these compounds earn an average of $12,000 a year, according to Nyandoro. Even if they have a car, they cannot afford to wait in long water pipes.

“Time costs,” Nyandoro said. “Gasoline costs. So it’s all of those things that so many of us take for granted that families have to negotiate right now.”

Yvette Day is one of the residents that Springboard to Opportunities delivered water to on Thursday. She could afford a car, but she’s waiting to see if she wants to stay in Jackson or follow her daughter to Texas first. Apartments in the Lone Star State are more expensive, but Jackson’s constant water problems cause her to move.

The water pressure dropped again in these apartments, but for a new reason: water gushed out of the manhole and flooded the street throughout the morning.

“I just want to leave,” Day said. “I just want to move.”