Bringing The World Home To You

© 2024 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines 89.9 Chadbourn
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Princeville Steps Up Recovery Efforts After Hurricane Matthew

Princeville, Flooding, Race, Hurricane Matthew
Leoneda Inge
File photo of crews working to contain flooding in Princeville after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

The town of Princeville is stepping up recovery efforts after flooding from Hurricane Matthew last fall.Two major hurricanes in less than two decades all-but-decimated the historic eastern North Carolina town founded by former slaves after the Civil War. The town sits in a floodplain near the Tar River.

Related: The Future Of Princeville: Rebuild Or Relocate?

Only about one-fifth of displaced residents have moved back to town and many more are eager to come home, according to Mayor Pro Tem Linda Joyner, adding that Princeville is resilient, like its ancestors.

IF YOU GO: 5:30 p.m., July 21, at the Edgecombe County Administrative Building; or 11 a.m., July 29, at the Edgecombe County Memorial Library

“Princeville is not a ghost town,” Joyner said. “We are very much alive. But we do know that we have to clean our town up, and we want to do this for ourselves.”

Some buildings are already being elevated above the water line, and Joyner is hopeful other solutions can give the town a brighter future.

“We know that we cannot prevent the flood, but we can at least prepare for it and be better ready so that we won't have as much destruction as we had in the flood of '99 and the Matthew flood,” Joyner said.

Becky Olson is a project manager for for the construction company Skanska, which has been working with Princeville since before Hurricane Matthew. She is leading a recovery working group to support town leaders concerned with getting displaced residents to move back and rebuild.

“We're also looking at long-term planning for them, and how this affects them in the future,” Olson said. “And the decisions they make now will affect them five, 10, 15 years down the road.”

Princeville has sustainable options to limit flood damage moving forward, according to Gavin Smith, who directs the Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence.

“A good recovery plan is based on the needs and aspirations of the community,” he said. “And one way to do that is to actually engage in a discussion, in an ongoing dialog. This is not the end, this is the beginning of an ongoing discussion.”

The town will host a series of open houses in the next couple weeks for residents to weigh in on long-term recovery priorities.

The first meeting will be Friday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Edgecombe County Administrative Building. The second will be Saturday, July 29 at 11 a.m. at the Edgecombe County Memorial Library.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
Related Stories
More Stories