Princeville residents get details about buyouts, elevations or repairs

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — People in Princeville are finally getting some details about just how much their homes may have to change following the devastating flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

Much of the historic town was under water because of the storm.

And some neighbors don’t want to stick around to see it happen again.

But, some residents might not have any choice.

As Daisy Staton and Bruce Ellison walked around their mom’s house, they wonder how long it’ll be before they can finally move her back.

The damage underneath still hasn’t been repaired.

Staton lives next door on Mullins Street in Princeville and can’t go home either.

“For about a week, we didn’t know how much damage was done,” Staton said.

The damage is enough that she qualifies for three options through FEMA.

She can have her home reconstructed, elevated or to be bought out altogether.

Her family’s been here since the 1970s, but she’d like to go.

“I wanted a buyout, but it’s not working for me. My mortgage is upside down,” Staton said. “I’m trapped. I feel like I’m trapped.”

She’s hoping to at least get her home elevated.

Staton went to a meeting Monday night where state officials explained the affected homes would generally be raised six to ten feet.

Town Manager Daniel Gerald has been encouraging people like Staton to stay.

“If a good number of people buy out, then you don’t have the tax base and you cease to be a town. So, it’s just that simple,” Gerald said.

Gerald says the town is working to expand its boundaries into less flood-prone areas to try to build the tax base.

Bruce Ellison was at his home on Monday.

The tub and the toilet are still in the backyard.

Volunteers recently came by and gutted it after water rose up six feet inside.

He says it’s been too hard  and he needs to take the buyout.

“Every time it rains you’re going to think about, is it going to flood again? Every time you have a hurricane season, you’re going to wonder if you’re going to be flooded out again,” Ellison said.

Later this week FEMA’s disaster recovery center in Edgecombe County will close after people made more than 1,000 visits there since the storm.

Early next week, there will be mandatory meetings for people interested in the buyouts or having their homes elevated or reconstructed.

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