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Officials in Princeville still unsure when residents can return


National Guard crews are draining water from Princeville into the Tar River at a rate of 1.6 million gallons of water per hour, Edgecombe County officials said.

Hurricane Matthew’s rain water left most of Princeville under water. But Edgecombe County manager Eric Evans said Monday that things are improving with these efforts.

“It doesn’t unflood what was flooded but the quicker we can get the water out, the quicker we can get in to make damage assessments to see exactly what we’re faced with and how extensive the damage is,” Evans said.

Still, residents can’t return to Princeville just yet and Evans says it’s unclear at this time when they’ll be able to return.

“I would ask them just to continue to be patient,” Evans said, adding that residents have been very patient. “We’re trying to speed that process up as quickly as possible with the help of the National Guard and others. Right now, it would be not a good idea for us to try to guess when that would be because of so many factors involved.”

Meanwhile, some folks whose homes flooded in other parts of the county are going home and seeing different colored signs.

Paulette Johnson and son Cordell Pettaway had a yellow sign posted to their home on Wilson Street in East Tarboro. Their home flooded but is now mostly dry.

“The water had gotten to the sofa and the den,” Pettaway said. “Basically it carried an odor to it like you didn’t want to stay there, you had to air it out. It had like a swamp smell to it inside. But other than that everything was pretty much OK.”

The yellow sign means they can enter their home and get items but they can’t live there. Their home also flooded to Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

“It get kind of touching to see this happen,” Johnson said, her eyes tearing up. “All over again, to be homeless. It’s good that you have family that you can go to. But, you know, there’s nothing like your home.”

Johnson is utilizing help from the county, her family, FEMA, and other organizations as she tackles the difficult process of starting over. And she’s asking everyone for one thing:

“Keep me in prayer that it’ll be alright,” Johnson said. “I know it is.”

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