‘All you can do is pray,’ says NC man evacuated during Princeville flooding

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — There is a mandatory evacuation for the town of Princeville in Edgecombe County.


A bridge connects Tarboro and Princeville and there is concern that if the water rises too much on the Tar River it will flood into Princeville.

RELATED STORY: Princeville issues evacuation for entire town as ‘major flooding’ is forecast

Princeville has seen this before with hurricane Floyd — and that’s why there is a mandatory evacuation order.

“I ain’t going to be calm but that’s expected.  From a hurricane, you don’t mess with nature,” said Michael Gardner, one of many who evacuated from Princeville.

Gardner says now all he can do is wait.

The Princeville resident left his home and is staying at a Red Cross shelter at Tarboro High School along with more than 200 other people.

“Your life is first now,” Gardner said.

Princeville is under a mandatory evacuation order.

The water level of the Tar River was already very high Monday. Officials expected it to peak between 8 and 10 a.m. Tuesday, but Edgecombe County’s Assistant County Manager William Johnson said computer models showed that it actually crested at 6 a.m.

Officials are still monitoring the situation to make sure that’s the case. There is still a risk and officials will meet Tuesday morning to assess the situation.

Some lights are already partially under water.

When the Tar River crests Tuesday morning, emergency officials say there’s concern it could rise to a level where the Princeville dike may not be able to hold the water.

“It’s a little too close for us not to be cautious, which is why we ordered the evacuation of the town of Princeville yesterday.  We’ll keep it evacuated through today and Monday night,” said Eric Evans, the Edgecombe County Manager.

Princeville is no stranger to this.

In 1999, many homes were destroyed or severely damaged from Hurricane Floyd and Calvin Sherrod says a lot of his neighbors took on second mortgages.

“A lot of those people are gone.  They couldn’t bear with the pressure,” said Sherrod, who has lived in Princeville for 30 years.

Sherrod is concerned it might happen again in the aftermath of Matthew.

He is staying along with more than 200 other people at a Red Cross shelter at Tarboro High School.

“We found that a lot of people were already out of the town, some people already prepared to leave. So 15, 16 years ago was not that distant of a memory,” Evans said.

Gardner wasn’t in Princeville for Floyd, but he’s heard stories — and it’s certainly on his mind.

“All you can do is pray.  That’s all you can do,” Gardner said.

There is also an evacuation in the Dunbar community, which is north of Princeville.

There are shelters at Tarboro High School, Martin Millennium Academy and D.S. Johnson Elementary School.

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