- Associated Press - Saturday, October 22, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Two weeks after she fled her home in Princeville with her husband and three children, Susan Morris returned to find the only major damage left by Hurricane Matthew was some damage to her roof.

“Blessed. Amazing. Thankful,” Morris, 59, said in a phone interview Saturday when asked how it felt to walk back into the home they left on Oct. 8.

Morris and her husband, Dennis, and their three children stayed in a home with another daughter, the daughter’s husband and their two children in a three-bedroom, one-bath house after they evacuated. Dennis Morris has multiple sclerosis and typically uses a wheelchair, but got by with a walker during the evacuation, she said.

Residents of the Southern Terrace neighborhood, where about 25 percent of the town’s 2,200 residents live, were allowed to return home Friday, Mayor Bobbie Jones said. About half the town may be allowed to return Monday with the rest of Princeville likely reopening Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.

Princeville, founded by freed slaves and chartered in 1885, was inundated in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd, which left up to 11 feet of water standing in the town for nine days. Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters from the Tar River went around the 37-foot-high dike, rebuilt after Floyd, but reached only 36.1 feet and didn’t breach it, Jones said.

The National Guard has pumped millions of gallons of water out of the town, which now needs to repair the sewer system before the rest of the residents can return, he said. Inspections of homes also continue.

The flooding wasn’t as bad as Jones had feared, with water about 7 feet high on Main Street, he said. Even the artifacts in the town museum are safe, he said. And he believes that once officials receive federal money to extend the dike and raise it another 5 feet, this sort of storm won’t damage the town again.

Meanwhile, The N.C. African American Heritage Commission is collecting supplies to help Princeville. The most-needed items include hand tools, toiletries, non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, new toys and books for children, face masks, rubber gloves and new undergarments of all sizes in their original packages.

Donations can be delivered to the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources lobby in Raleigh; the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Historic Site in Gibsonville; and Fayetteville State University. For donations at FSU, contact Dr. Kelli Cardenas Walsh at [email protected]


Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at -https://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc. Her work can be found at -https://bigstory.ap.org/content/martha-waggoner

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