Local News

SBI Probing Hurricane Floyd Recovery Spending

Posted August 14, 2006 6:27 a.m. EDT

— Nearly seven years after Hurricane Floyd wiped out this Edgecombe County town, state authorities are investigating how some federal relief money was spent.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency handed out $26 million to Princeville's more than 2,000 residents and another $1.5 million to the town to rebuild after Floyd's floodwaters receded. FEMA funneled another $7 million to the area in the form of grants.

The State Bureau of Investigation is now examining how much of that money was spent after the Edgecombe County District Attorney Howard Boney asked for an investigation.

Boney declined to comment Monday, and it's unclear whether the SBI is investigating the town's spending or residents' spending in the wake of the hurricane.

"I was shocked. No one informed us of no ongoing investigation, no ongoing probe, nothing of that nature," Town Manager Samuel Knight said. "We're human beings, and if mistakes were made, chalk it up to human error. I don't think anybody tried to deliberately defraud the government of any money."

Princeville resident Melvin Howell said he saw very little FEMA money after Floyd destroyed his home.

"All of the money I spent to rebuild was basically mine," Howell said. "It kind of makes me wonder where is the money, that much money. I should have gotten a little bit of something, you know."

The SBI will turn its findings over to Boney, who will decide if charges will be filed.

Meanwhile, Princeville officials are in the process of applying for new grants, with some of the money going to rebuild the old Town Hall and transform it into a museum. Knight said he hopes the SBI probe won't affect the grant process.