Hurricane Matthews: Princeville NC – Leaders debate rebuilding merits


The Watch Dog response: I feel strongly that folk whom do not live in Princeville can have an opinion however their opinion can be ignant as hell. Why do Roosevelt Higgs feel he know what is best for the town of Princeville just because he is trying to get his 1 minute of fame? I have seen him that local racist tv station calling in with his ignant comments and they eat that mess up. I have not seen him at the 2 meetings that I have videoed so it is interesting how he made it into this article. It should be the citizens of Princeville whom should be taken seriously about what they want to see for the future of Princeville. Now some may want to go and some may want to stay so therefore it should be a town thing and an individual thing. As a flood victim in 1999 when I was living in the house that was given to me by my dad, this time my dad was living there. I have an opinion about my house in Pinetops Bynum Farm Road but I can not speak for the folk in Princeville and dare to unless given permission. Unless there is a FEMA buyout put on the table, the folk need to have one thing on their mind and that is flood recovery. This means whatever it takes to get back to normal be it rehabbing, replacing or moving out of the town. What I find that is disgusting is that Higgs is the Democratic Party chair and is doing nothing, has not Democratic Headquarters and just nothing going on but he is all into Princeville and their flood recovery. Higgs you need to be focusing on the election because the Bobbie Jones Mayor of Princeville, Commissioner Milton Bullock and the other commissioner along with the town manager will do what they need to do as it relates to the Princeville flood recovery.

By Lindell John Kay
Staff Writer

Thursday, October 27, 2016

PRINCEVILLE — Residents are moving back into less damaged parts of town while officials debate the merits of rebuilding in the same low-lying area and a state lawmaker calls for a special session of the N.C. General Assembly to fund Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts.

Residents of Southern Terrace and other subdivisions have been allowed to return to their homes to begin repairs. Some residents with severely damaged homes are still waiting for the go-ahead from officials to return.

“We’re looking at days, not weeks,” Mayor Bobbie Jones said.

National Guard engineers have pumped millions of gallons of water out of the town, but the sewage system needs to be repaired before the remainder of the town’s residents can move out of shelters and back home.

Inspectors have gone house to house evaluating damages, Town Manager Daniel Gerald said.

Floodwaters reached about 7 feet high on Main Street. Jones said he believes once officials receive federal money to extend the dike and raise it another 5 feet, this sort of storm will not damage the town again.

Princeville was flooded in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd, which left up to 11 feet of water standing in the town for nine days. Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters from the Tar River went around the 37-foot-high dike, rebuilt after Floyd, but reached only 36.1 feet and did not breach it.

Jones said he plans for the town to remain in the same historic location.

Opinion on whether to stay put was split at a town meeting earlier this week at the Edgecombe Administration Building in Tarboro.

Resident Calvin Sherrod said he had no plans to move.

“At my age I ain’t going nowhere,” Sherrod said. “You can’t run from a flood.”

Edgecombe County resident Rev. Roosevelt Higgs said he does not understand why Princeville residents would choose to live in the spot of two major floods in less than 20 years.

“When the freed slaves founded Princeville, they didn’t have much of a choice where to build a town,” Higgs said. “But they have a choice now. They need to move up out of that hole.”

Town Commissioner Milton Bullock said town officials need to look at Princeville’s flooding history and unpredictable future.

“It is far too soon to be presuming the destiny of the town of Princeville, as indicated by Gov. Pat McCrory and current Town Manager Daniel Gerald and Mayor Bobbie Jones,” Bullock said via email. “The preconceived notion of ‘rebuilding Princeville’ is noble as well as a highly commendable idea and should be good news to everybody who was affected. Yet we must be ever so careful as a hurting community during this travesty, not to be hasty in our presumptive decision making.”

Bullock said town officials should not rush to judgment before a dialogue with the citizens of Princeville, since it should be their collective decision after hearing from federal agencies of the pros and cons of rebuilding in the same low-lying location.

“Such hasty actions during 1999 Hurricane Floyd puts (us) where we (are) today, ignoring the people’s collective thoughts and opinions relative to FEMA’s offer to buy out and relocate the community,” Bullock said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency did offer to finance a move of the entire town to higher ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd. That offer was rejected.

Gerald said FEMA has not made such a proposal so far this time around.

“I’ve received no information about buyouts,” Gerald said. “So I’m coming at it like we need to move in and start the process to fix the town.”

While residents decide their future, they need immediate help in the present, N.C. Rep. Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton, said.

“We had a special session for HB2 and redistricting, there was a special session for Floyd recovery in 1999, we need a special session now,” Smith-Ingram said Monday during the Princeville town meeting

Smith-Ingram, whose N.C. House District 3 covers Edgecombe County, said Princeville residents need help now.

Edgecombe County has been approved for the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Edgecombe County Department of Social Services has two locations to assist affected residents in signing up for the program: Riverside Mall on Western Boulevard and the DSS Building at on South Fairview Road in Rocky Mount. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Monday. (Rocky Mount Telegram)

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