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Princeville Looks to Its Past in Order to Rebuild in the Future

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PRINCEVILLE — More Princeville residents returned to their homes Friday. The question many of them have is not just how long will it take to rebuild, but can they rebuild at all?

Even before Floyd's flooding, the historic town was struggling to get on solid financial ground.

Princeville was founded at the end of the Civil War by the newly-freed slaves of Tarboro. Over the past few months, the town has been using state grant money to clean up its historical buildings. Town leaders planned to turn the Town Hall building into a black history museum.

For now, Princeville's plans to become a vacation hot spot based on its heritage will have to wait.

Barren Hinton wonders if his town can ever recover.

"It may be replaced, but it will never be like it was the first time. My father built his business here. To see it destroyed, I don't think it will ever be the same," says Hinton.

The Tar River is expected to crest again Sunday. Sandbag crews are repairing seven breaches in the town's protective dike.

Town leaders are standing by their plan to become a heritage vacation spot. They know they have a lot to overcome.

Mayor Delia Perkins says Princeville will recover, but only with financial help from the state and federal government.

"It's going to take lots of money, lots of manpower. We have a lot of people who will volunteer help. But it's going to take a lot of money to get back, [especially] for those people who can't afford to rebuild," she says.

The state is already helping. Richard Moore, the state'sCrime Control and Public Safetysecretary, gave Princeville a check for nearly $200,000 on Friday. More money is on the way.

This disaster is new territory to everyone. And there is a lot that has to be fixed before Princeville shows up in anyone's vacation plans.

"What we are committed to do though, is to put the town back in the condition that the citizens want it. If they want it there, all the buyout and relocation programs, they are all voluntary," says Moore.

Because the programs are voluntary, many people may opt not to sell and rebuild on their land. The town is worried if they give up their land, they give up their heritage and the chance to make more money from vacationers down the road.

The size of the rebuilding project down east continues to grow as the number of homes hit by Floyd continues to rise.

The latest figures show 3,700 homes in North Carolina were destroyed by Floyd. Another 4,300 were severely damaged by wind or water. Nearly 8,000 other homes suffered minor damage. Housing damage is now estimated at $250 million

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

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