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Floods Threatens America's Oldest Black Town


The historic town of #Princeville, #NorthCarolina, the oldest Black-chartered town in the #UnitedStates, is facing a dire situation due to recurring hurricanes and floods. Established in 1865 by freed Black people, the town has endured numerous disasters, including Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which resulted in significant population loss.


Efforts to protect Princeville with a new levee extension were halted in June 2023 when it was revealed that the project would endanger nearby communities. Residents, determined to preserve their heritage and community, were left disappointed but committed to finding alternative solutions.


In 2017, a design workshop organized by Gavin Smith, a professor at the University of North Carolina, aimed to create a flood-resilient plan for Princeville. Smaller projects emerged, including a heritage trail and a mobile history museum, to celebrate the town's history.


State funds and #FEMA commitments have allowed for the elevation of some homes and infrastructure repair, but the current system remains inadequate for hurricane-induced flooding. Residents are working together to build a brighter future, including developing a 53-acre parcel outside the flood plain for essential services, a farmers market, and public housing units.


While the Army Corps abandoned the levee extension, Princeville now has an additional 88 acres to explore for future development. The town, known for its history, is determined to secure its future despite facing complex challenges in its flood-prone location.


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