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Princeville Opts to Rebuild Dike Instead of Federal Buyout

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PRINCEVILLE — Princeville has decided to repair the dike that protects it from the Tar River instead of taking a federal buyout that might have broken up the historic town founded by ex-slaves.

The Town Board of Commissioners voted three-to-two Monday night to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair its dike, which broke due to Hurricane Floyd.

That action removes the town of 2,100 from the flood plain, and makes its residents ineligible for a buyout proposed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mayor Delia Perkins cast the deciding vote.

"The dike means that the town will be in the 300-year flood plain, and that we will not have to worry a lot about elevations and moving a lot of people, and this will keep the tax base of the town together," she says.

About 600 homes in Princeville were heavily damaged or destroyed by flood waters.

The buyout called for FEMA to buy the homes for their estimated market value the day before the flood. Residents who wanted to sell out and move no longer have the option.

The overwhelming majority of people who live here say they want to stay. No more than than three residents had applied for the FEMA buyout.

Before the dike, floods were not uncommon in the low-lying area. Princeville suffered six floods as a town before 1965, when the Army Corps of Engineers built the three-mile-long dike. The structure worked fine until Floyd forced the river through, then over the earthen wall.

Princeville leaders hope the Corp of Engineers will improve the structure, and even make it higher. Repairs should be complete in time for the 2000 hurricane season.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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