Princeville residents get a glimpse of new plans after Hurricane Matthew

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Residents in Princeville got a chance to see plans for the town’s future Tuesday night.

The new plans are aimed at revitalizing the community while preparing for flooding in the years ahead.

Design teams have met with the community over the last several days to better understand needs in the area and presented concepts to the town.

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Hurricane Matthew brought devastating flooding to the community, forcing people out of their homes.

Nearly a year later, many are still waiting to be able to move back.

“Dealing with those day-to-day struggles, it’s hard to see what the possibilities can be. This is a beautiful way to put that vision on display. It gives us something to reach for,” said Eric Evans, Edgecombe County manager.

The plan calls for developing a 52-acre plot of land outside the flood zone that would be a new site for the town hall, Princeville Elementary and the fire department as well as new housing and business development.

The land already has been annexed into Princeville, Evans said. However, he said an agreement hasn’t been reached on whether the state would purchase the land.

The design concepts also include developing Freedom Hill to better highlight the town’s history as the oldest town incorporated by freed slaves. In addition, a welcome center would be constructed in place of an abandoned gas station, which drivers first see as they cross the bridge from Tarboro onto Main Street.

What’s unclear is how much all of this would cost and who would pay for it.

“I have no idea how much all of this would cost, but I know the most important thing is that we address the dike,” said Mayor Bobbie Jones.

He’s urging Congress to fund improvements to the dike, noting the town is still at risk of devastating floods in the future.

In Edgecombe County, 95 families still live in temporary trailers provided by FEMA. Two families still live in hotels, which is down from nearly 400.

Additional people are still living with friends and family.

Gloria Bullock returned to Princeville about a month after Hurricane Matthew.

“They’re still coming and cleaning the community and checking on things. And, I’m praying and hoping they do come back here to keep Princeville as Princeville,” she said.

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