The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


August 29, 2011


'Princeville is not flooding'

PRINCEVILLE — It is not true.

"The Princeville dike has not burst" said Princeville Police Chief Joey Petway.

Rumors concerning the dike bursting in the historic Town of Princeville has alarmed many of the town's residents and some have even evacuated the town out of fear.

Petway and National Weather Service Meteorologist Darrin Figurskey dispelled the rumor around noon today. Both of them asked, "Where did that come from?"

Firgurskey, who reported that the river had rose to 16.9 feet around noon, said the Tar River was rising slow and is expected to crest Tuesday at 19 1/2 feet. The river flood stage is 19 feet.

"What that means is the town will have very minor flooding," Fiqurskey said. "There's nothing to be alarmed about. Water will spill over into (Powell Park)" – the park adjacent to the dike on the Princeville side of the river.

"It will have to get over 28 feet to go over the dike and it will not get even close to that. There's nothing to worry about at this point."

Princevillian's worries stem from Hurricane Irene's torrential downpour that dumped 7 1/2 inches of water on Edgecombe County Friday and Saturday. On Monday, around noon, water in the Tar River near the Princeville-Tarboro Bridge spilled over the riverbank.

Perhaps some of the residents had flashbacks of the infamous Hurricane Floyd on Sept. 16, 1999. Floyd struck the town with less wind than Irene, but it dropped more rain in a shorter period of time. The ground had already been saturated by another hurricane (Dennis) several days before Floyd hit.

After Floyd had passed over, the sky was as clear as a summer night. Little did they know that there was something else brewing that was far worse than Floyd's wind. The mighty Tar River began rising at a magnitude that couldn't be stop.

In an effort to stop the flood, about 50 residents summoned at the dike and began placing sandbags at the levee. As fast as they were placing the sandbags down, the water was rising above it. Eventually, (former) Mayor Delia Perkins told the citizens to move to higher ground.

Princeville Volunteer Fire Department rode through the town and announced on its fire truck PA speaker, "You need to evacuate. The town is going to flood."

The majority of the citizens left that night, however, some still stayed in the town. The next day, Princeville Fire Department, Edgecombe County emergency personnel and volunteers made a massive rescue for those who did not leave.

Princeville Fire Chief Billy Boddie said he doesn't want to experience an event like that again. He said he didn't know where the recent rumor came from, but he was glad that it was just a rumor.




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