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New Dike Gives Princeville a Wall of Security

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PRINCEVILLE — The Edgecombe County town of Princeville was underwater for days last September afterHurricane Floydwiped out the town's dike. A new barrier will be finished next week, and people who live near it could not be more relieved.

The old dike broke in seven spots, allowing the Tar River to bury the historic town under water. The new dike is the same size as the old barrier, but it is designed to be stronger.

Ruey Wilkins remembers last year's flooding, and knowing that the dike was damaged has been in the back of his mind since he returned to Princeville. He is happy about the new dike.

"With that dike like it is now, [the water] has a long way to get through there," he said. "We have a better chance to get out of the way if [a flood] happens."

Once the earthen wall is finished, Princeville will be out of the high-risk 100-year flood plain. Only then can the rebuilding process really begin.

"Until the dike was back in place, the local chapter ofHabitat for Humanityjustifiably was unwilling to build homes here," saidFEMA'sBrad Gair. "Now that the dike is in place, we will be able to, and we're looking to do as many as 25 homes."

There is also a psychological benefit for the people of Princeville. Residents say they can relax for the first time since the flood.

"We can feel reasonably sure, just for ordinary water," said Princeville Mayor Delia Perkins. "There's nothing we can do if it goes to an extreme, but I think we have a feeling of security, since the dike is just about finished."

The gravel road that runs along the top of the dike will be part of aplanned Black History Trail. Earlier this week, theWhite Housedeclared it one of the nation's fewMillennium Trails.

Dignitaries will cut the ribbon for the new dike next Tuesday, a few days before it is completed.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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