Endangered African American Historic Sites

America's oldest Black town is threatened by floods - and seeking a Plan B

Sunday, January 28, 2024 • • General
January 28, 2024 - On a blustery January afternoon in Princeville, N.C., about 35 citizens met with their mayor, elected commissioners and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in their new flood-resistant town hall, built in 2020. Across Main Street, elderly residents were climbing two flights of stairs to enter their senior center, raised 14 feet above ground level in 2021. A quarter-mile away, the Tar River — Princeville's longtime nemesis — rolled on quietly, north to south. The Tar and its latent forces were the reason for this meeting. Princeville, the oldest Black-chartered town in the United States, has suffered through at least nine hurricanes and floods since it was established at the end of the Civil War. They're only getting worse. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd breached the town's levee and left 10 feet of standing water for two weeks, destroying nearly 1,000 buildings. Floyd was followed in 2016 by Matthew, which again breached the levee and demolished half the town.

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