'Hopelessness has dissipated' as Princeville residents return home
Posted October 25, 2016 7:08 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2016 9:28 p.m. EDT
Princeville, N.C. — More than two weeks after Hurricane Matthew's floodwaters invaded Princeville, everyone in the community was finally able to return home on Tuesday.
Mayor Bobbie Jones said about 60 percent of the homes have little to no damage, but the remaining 40 percent have moderate to severe damage.
Jones first notified those who were staying at a shelter that they could return home at 2 p.m.
"Because of that announcement, their hopelessness has dissipated," Jones said.
The once-closed bridge leading to the town also reopened Tuesday. Residents drove in one by one to see the conditions on the other side.
Raymond Smith, who had a yellow sticker on his home for minor damage, only noticed damage outside of his home.
"My house is still standing and I feel blessed because a lot of people can't come home," Smith said.
Queen Smith-Bullock had to wear a mask to go inside her home. She had a red sticker on her door, which advised her to enter with caution.
"When I saw this, I just broke down in tears. I really did," she said.
Smith-Bullock found mold on her couch and the refrigerator was tossed across the room.
Princeville leaders tell me they are planning for the future. They met Monday to discuss making it mandatory to build future homes at least two feet in the air.