Most people do not enjoy their commute to work. It is time they would rather spend doing something else — sometimes, anything else. Then come the added frustrations of traffic jams and the dreaded road construction that seems to take a lifetime. Imagine, if you will, the main bridge in and out of your town is closed and no one knows when it might reopen.

This is what happened to the bridge in and out of the small community of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. It had been deemed unsafe to drive on and closed with a pile of dirt and stop signs at both ends. It was the fastest way to the grocery store, so people started carrying their groceries across the bridge because it was faster than driving.

The road department told the Blue Cane Tippo Water Association that they couldn’t repair the bridge until the nearby water line was moved. It was left to the small water association to find the funds to pay to move it. The pressure was mounting from residents and the county to get the bridge reopened. So Blue Cane went to the County Board of Supervisors and asked for help to pay to move the waterline. They were turned away. They called their local USDA representative, Patricia McDowell.  Patricia told the water association that she could not help them because the USDA doesn’t make loans for the small amount for which Blue Cane was asking, but she knew of a place that made loans of all sizes to small rural systems just like theirs: Communities Unlimited.

Patricia placed a call to Communities Unlimited Environmental Services staff in Mississippi. She asked if they could meet with the Blue Cane Tippo Water Association to determine whether they could work with them. After Communities Unlimited met with Blue Cane and assessed the impact of the loan, they helped them complete an application to the Communities Unlimited Revolving Loan Fund. Shortly after the loan closed and Blue Cane received the funds they needed, the water line was moved and repairs to the bridge began. The pressure was off the water system, and an end to the community’s frustration was in sight.