Atlanta Mayor Dickens was in Memphis for a fundraiser during the water pipe crisis.

Checks could be made payable to Andre For Atlanta, according to an event flyer.

The Tennessee event took place Friday evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Central time, well after the water breaks in Atlanta had become a clear crisis.

The mayor’s office said in a statement that Dickens visited Memphis at the invitation of the city’s mayor and met with local elected officials, business and community leaders, followed by a fundraising event.

“When Mayor Dickens left Atlanta, the consensus was that the water main break was similar to the approximately 530 breaks or leaks the city of Atlanta has experienced over the past 12 months,” a door said. -speak from his office. “It was only late Friday evening, after repairs had been attempted, that the City became aware of the seriousness of the damage. »

At a packed news conference Monday morning at the site of the Midtown water cutoff, the mayor did not provide further details on the timetable for his trip.

After a brief update on the incident that left the buildings immediately surrounding the break without water, Dickens left without answering questions. As an angry Midtown resident complained about the city’s lack of timeline, the mayor was quickly forced out.

Dickens also changed a scheduled event with an AJC reporter at his office Monday afternoon involving students starting a new internship program. The students were taken back to the mayor’s office, but the reporter was denied access after initially being told she would be allowed to cover the meeting.

It’s not uncommon for elected officials to travel out of state for campaign events, but the city’s choppy communication on water issues and the mayor’s lack of visibility during the first 24 hours have sparked criticism. intense criticism from residents.

Dickens’ campaign also defended the mayor’s response to the pauses.

“Mayor Dickens rushed back to Atlanta (Saturday morning) shortly after realizing the water outage problem would not be resolved quickly,” said Howard Franklin, senior adviser to the mayor’s re-election campaign. “He was on the ground in Memphis less than 24 hours.”

But as slow, thrifty updates were rolled out by the city’s Department of Watershed Management, many were wondering on social media: Where is Mayor Andre Dickens?

At Saturday’s news conference, he acknowledged the lack of information provided and apologized for the time it took to alert residents to what was happening.

“We could have done a better job over the last day,” he said Saturday. “And for that, I apologize for not being able to provide you with as much up-to-date information as possible.”

Dickens and his team always recognized the failed communications response to water breaks. The mayor’s top aides said the situation on Joseph E. Boone appeared to be under control Friday, but got worse as crews were unable to control the rupture.

The Department of Watershed Management has struggled to maintain the city’s watershed infrastructure that dates back to the 1860s. The city’s faulty equipment and system have led to millions in overdue water bills and leaks. massive wastewater in the Chattahoochee.

Dickens recently made a significant change in his cabinet members, including replacing the city’s watershed commissioner. A seemingly constant string of negative headlines about Atlanta’s water infrastructure played a role in the change in direction.

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