Princeville Residents Still Waiting to Go Back Home
Posted September 26, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
PRINCEVILLE — The flood water is slowly receding, but the cleanup is just beginning. However, people in Princeville have still not started to clean up because one-third of the town is under water.
The only way to get to Princeville is in a Humvee, courtesy of the National Guard. The water has receded some, but the area is still considered unsafe. Residents are being kept out. Only National Guard vehicles are permitted in the disaster area.
The Princeville Montessori School was filled with 88 inches of water and looks like it may be a total loss.
"This is a disaster beyond what you can imagine and walk into a place like that. We walked in the media center a while ago, and everything is just all over the place," said superintendent George Thigpen.
Hundreds of Princeville residents are staying in local shelters. Monday, they received mail for the first time, but they would really like to go back and see their homes.
"It might be a better place after the cleanup. Eventually, I hope to get back there, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon," said resident Anthony Harris.
The big question is when can people go back to Princeville. There are about 1,500 residents who would like to go back and survey the damage, but they cannot do that until the water goes down.
The Army Corps of Engineers is working on removing the water that is still there.
Officials hope to try and open some of the Edgecombe County schools next week.
The media was allowed back into Princeville Monday with the National Guard. The county hopes to allow residents back in as the water recedes. They hope that will happen within about three days.
They are allowing limited access to other areas in Edgecombe County. However, you must go during the day, and you must have proper identification to prove you are a homeowner.
One of North Carolina's fastest-growing towns will help one of its oldest towns pick up the pieces. TheCary Town Councilhas "adopted" Princeville.
Under the agreement, Cary town leaders will offer time and other resources to get Princeville's local government up and running again.
A team of funeral home directors and pathologists will identify some 130 caskets pulled from the ground by flood waters.
The workers began making positive identifications of the caskets recovered in Edgecombe and Wayne counties, and 79 caskets and vaults had been recovered.
At least another 50 are waiting to be collected in the Princeville area.