Local News

Princeville Rebuilds, New Dike Opens New Possibilities

Posted September 14, 2000

— Princeville has received a tremendous amount of attention locally and nationally, because the entire town was consumed in last year's flood. Progress has been made, but the recovery has just started for the historic community.

The powerful images of Princeville buried in water are hard to forget -- much of the damage remains. Recovery Continues: Slow, but Surprisingly SwiftWilliam Boyd is one of the few who have recovered. After a year of hard work and help from volunteers, he is out of a travel trailer and back home again.

"They always say there's no place like home, and that's a true saying," he says. "There's no place like home."

Before the flood, there were about 800 utility customers in Princeville. In the past year, more than 400 have returned, but only half of them are in permanent structures.

But after the flooding, many never expected to be back this soon. Deloris Martin just moved from a FEMA travel trailer in Rocky Mount to a mobile home in Princeville. Compared to what she left, her new home is a palace.

"There's so much room," she says. "I'm just happy to be in a bigger place."

It will take years for Princeville to recover. Some wonder why the people decided to return at all. For many of them, it is a simple decision -- Princeville is home.

"When you lost your home and your birthplace, it's a different feeling," says Boyd. "Before you be judgmental, put yourself in another man's shoes." New Dike Adds Wall of Security, Opens Hope for Further RecoveryThe July completion of a stronger dike is helping to give Princeville residents added security. Thanks to the new wall, Princeville is now out of the 100-year flood plain.

The old dike broke in seven spots, allowing the Tar River to bury Princeville in water.

Before the new dike was built,Habitat for Humanitywas unwilling to build homes in Princeville. They now hope to build as many as 25 homes.

The gravel road that runs along the top of the dike will be part of a plannedBlack History Trail. TheWhite Housedeclared it one of the nation's few Millennium Trails.


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