Local News

Coast Guard, Pope Airmen Search Princeville By Boat

Posted September 21, 1999

— The town of Princeville is historic, and now Hurricane Floyd is part of that history. The town is underwater and only accessible by boat.

Water has not taken over just part of Princeville; it has taken over the entire community.

It is hard to believe that an entire town is empty and silent under 10 feet of floodwater. Historic churches, businesses, homes as well as Princeville School never stood a chance.

An 18-wheeler was covered with so much water that you could barely recognize it.

Airmen fromPope Air Force Baseand theCoast Guardare searching Princeville by boat looking for signs of life.

The water is going down slowly, but it will be days before anyone can visit what is left of their homes, their neighborhoods and their town.

The Coast Guard and the airmen were also looking for deceased people who might still be in Princeville. They did not find any victims Wednesday.

However, several pets that had scrambled for safety were found. One dog was found on some old boards that were stuck in a tree.

He is doing fine now, and the searchers named the dog Gilligan.

It will be months, at the earliest, before Princeville is itself again. The same river, the Tar River, that brought life to the community is not ready to give it up just yet.

"I made a comment to my wife the other day that this is the kind of thing you sit back and talk to your grandkids and great-grandkids about, the flood of 1999. It's that bad," said resident Kevin Daniels.

The Coast Guard and the Air Force will continue looking through Princeville for people who did not survive.

Princeville is one of the poorest towns in North Carolina, but it is rich in history.

The town was founded at the end of the Civil War by the newly-freed slaves of Tarboro. Over the past few months, Princeville has been using state grant money to clean up its historical buildings.

Town leaders planned to turn the Town Hall building into a black history museum, but that dream will have to wait.


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