Princeville evacuation still in effect as Tar River crests, officials say

TARBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – While Edgecombe County hasn’t experienced a fatality in Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath, the Town of Princeville is still under mandatory evacuation, officials said.

The Tar River on Monday near Princeville. WNCN photo
See more photos from Matthew’s aftermath

The county still has flooded roads as the Tar River swelled and spilled across the area. Street lights could be seen barely peaking out of the waters Tuesday morning.

The river came dangerously close to overtaking the Princeville Bridge after Hurricane Matthew dropped more than nine inches of rain in Tarboro.

Officials initially thought the river had crested about 6 a.m. at more than 15 feet above flood stage.

But later observations showed that the river is in fact still rising, albeit very slowly, about a fifth of an inch per hour. As of 12:15 p.m., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the river was at 34.47 feet.

However, officials continue to predict that the flood’s height will stay well short of the 37 feet that would allow it to top Princeville’s levee and flood the town.

While the town is unlikely to flood an evacuation order remains in place.

Officials are still monitoring the situation to make sure the Tar doesn’t cause more flooding as there is still a risk.

RELATED: Comprehensive map of rivers and flooding across North Carolina

In addition to Princeville, the Dunbar area has been evacuated.

County officials urge residents to not return home or attempt to drive through flooded roads.

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

In 1999, many homes in the area were destroyed or severely damaged from Hurricane Floyd.

As the river peaked this the memories of the devastating effects of Floyd were still fresh for those who lived through it.

“It’s kind of devastating to think of all the people that lost stuff and had nowhere to go and it could happen again,” said Sylvia Perkins Davenport.

More than 200 other people at a Red Cross shelter at Tarboro High School Monday night.

The National Weather Service said train tracks run through a levee about a quarter mile downstream of Princeville.

The Town installed an iron gate that could dropped across the track to close the cut for the track.

NWS said the cut allowed water flow into Princeville during Hurricane Floyd. Princeville dropped the gate in place on Saturday for the first time since Floyd.

For more information regarding the current situation call the Edgecombe County Emergency Operations Center at 252-824-0108. Farmers in the area with any questions or concerns please call 866-645-9403. Any citizens needing assistance from FEMA please call 1-800-621-3361. for flood safety tips visit


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