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Princeville residents consider buyouts of homes damaged by Matthew

Posted 9:50 p.m. Monday
Updated 10:12 p.m. Monday

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— Princeville town leaders met with residents Monday night to discuss their plans for moving forward following devastating floods from Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew flooded the historic town earlier this year and many residents lost everything for a second time.

“I believe it is going to happen again,” said former Princeville Commissioner Isabel Andrews. “I never completely recovered.”

Andrews’ home was flooded in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd and again after Hurricane Matthew. She’s lived in Princeville for more than 30 years, but thinks it may finally be time to go.

Monday night, residents affected by the storm were given three options. They could either have their home elevated or mitigated, which would involve the construction of an improved, code-compliant elevated home on the same site as a home that had been partially or completely destroyed.

Residents were also offered the option of a buyout, in which FEMA offers a homeowner pre-disaster fair market value for their house, as determined by an appraiser. The home is then demolished and the land deeded to the local government with an open space restriction. Before a homeowner receives the funds from selling the home to FEMA, any individual assistance or flood insurance funds not used to repair the home will be deducted from the offer price.

Like some other residents, Andrews wants the federal government to buy up her land so she can move to higher ground. It’s a choice residents were not given after Hurricane Floyd.

“In 1999, the mayor and the board did not give us that option,” Andrews said.

Delia Perkins was they mayor when Hurricane Floyd came through.

“In 1999, the council decided we would not opt for the buyout,” she said.

Back then, town leaders decided instead to strengthen the dike in the town to protect against future flooding. Perkins said residents built newer, better homes. She believes most will rebuild yet again.

“I do not believe that nobody is going to buy my flood land and give me enough money to move somewhere else,” said resident Barry Hines Sr.

Current Mayor Bobbie Jones agrees with the decision made in 1999. He says if residents take a buyout and move out, the historic town, which was built by slaves, will suffer.

“The buyout would not be beneficial for the town of Princeville because I believe our blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers were actually shed on the ground that we are occupying at this time,” he said.

A meeting will be held Thursday to talk more about what the town might do. As of Monday night, only a few dozen residents have signed up with interest in a buyout.

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