Princeville town leaders walk hand-in-hand to assess flood damage

Posted October 18, 2016 5:53 p.m. EDT

— Just four days ago, floodwaters covered 80 percent of Princeville. On Tuesday, town leaders walked hand-in-hand toward the city hall, some not knowing what they would find.

"Almost seven feet of water a few days ago, and now we are standing here on solid ground," said Mayor Bobbie Jones.

On the steps of town hall, leaders vowed to rebuild the small town for a second time. Princeville, with its rich African American history, was under water following Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"We are hard working people and dedicated to one another," said Jones. "That's what was great about the town of Princeville and that's going to happen again."

The National Guard has spent the last six days pumping nearly one million gallons of water per hour back into the Tar River.

It is still not clear when residents will be allowed back to their homes.

"Even though the water has almost gone away, there are still dangers that we need to address before our citizens can return," Jones said.

The flood water that is still covering a large portion of the town is a toxic mix of sewage, oil and gasoline.

For now, local leaders are taking the first steps.

"Holding hands means to us that we are in this together. We went out together and we're coming back in today, and we are ready to work," Jones said.