Local News

Jackson Tours Eastern North Carolina

Posted September 28, 1999

— Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson was in North Carolina Wednesday getting a firsthand look at flooding left by Hurricane Floyd.

Jackson went to Princeville with the National Guard Wednesday afternoon and then headed to a shelter at Tarboro High School and to a church in Rocky Mount.

He told residents to keep up their hope in spite of circumstances.

Jackson's speech was a source of inspiration for Edgecombe County residents. Many who have flooded homes are worried the help will go away once Edgecombe County fades from the national spotlight.

"The supplies are coming in, and we are getting a lot of help from that. It's good to see important people come in and talk with us and show us some concern," said Princeville resident Tara Honesty.

No one appreciates Jackson's visit more than Martha Barnes. After two weeks in a shelter, she needed some inspiration.

"It makes me feel great. It makes me feel like I'm kind of important," said Barnes.

In spite of the overwhelming damage in Princeville, Jackson believes the residents can reclaim their community and their heritage.

"It's devastating, but people here will bounce back. This community survived slavery, and it will survive a flood," said Jackson.

Jackson said he will petition Congress to send long-term aid to Edgecombe County, but not everyone was impressed. Many people said they want tangible help instead of more promises.

"We need money. We need this in black and white. Talk is no good anymore. Forget talking. Put it in black and white, issue it out to all these flood victims, and bring a check when you come," said flood victim Anita Joseph.

"This area needs a development bank whose job is to invest in high-risk situations. Every investment here is high-risk," said Jackson.

Specifically, Jackson is looking for very low-interest loans and also some grants to people who Jackson said were poor before the flood.

Jackson also said that FEMA is important. To date, 42,000 people have called FEMA in our state, and $4 million has been paid out.

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