Hurricane Matthew One Year Later: Princeville still looking for help

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PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Hurricane Matthew devastated many parts of the east when it hit North Carolina on October 8, 2016.

One of the hardest hit areas was Edgecombe County and surrounding towns.

Princeville is one that has struggled to find its balance since Matthew.

The town has a large senior population and many are barely able to make ends meet.

Linda Joyner serves the towns nearly 2,200 citizens as Mayor Pro-tem.

Joyner said to know Princeville, is to know its history.

Noting the work of her ancestors Joyner said, “They continued to build and rebuild Princeville, that’s resilience. Princeville has stood on the shoulders of our ancestors for a long, long time.”

When you talk to Joyner you start to understand the deep-rooted history here.

It was the first town in the United States incorporated by African Americans.

The year was 1885.

“Our ancestors knew this was marshland when it was given to them but they made it through it,” said Joyner.

If you stop and listen to people here you get a taste of that pride. Many families have lived here their entire lives.

Linda Worsley is one of those people.

“Well I’m doing fine. I can’t complain because I have been blessed,” said Worsley.

Mrs. Worsley has seen her share of hurricanes. Before Matthew there was Floyd in 1999.

Walk through the town today and it’s almost as if time has stopped.

Worsley said, “It has taken a toll this time, because this is our second go around.”

Both storms claimed her family’s homes.

Her parents are in their nineties and are suffering from dementia.

“It seems like that I am the parent now and they are the children instead of it being the other way around,” Worsley.

Hurricane Matthew certainly left its mark.

“It went through their house and they were able to cut theirs out,” said Worsley. “Unfortunately, I was living in a double wide mobile unit and it went like 8 feet in my house.”

Like many other victims, Worsley spent nearly 5 months in a hotel after the storm.

Now she is in a mobile home with her son and granddaughter.

They are still waiting for FEMA relief to come through.

Worsley described the mindset of the town and said, “I think a lot of people are frustrated because we felt like by now we should have had those monies.”

Relief has been slow for many. FEMA lifted a freeze this week that was withholding aid for Matthew victims.

Governor Roy Cooper said people in eastern North Carolina are in desperate need of aid.

Gov. Cooper explained, “We’ve worked to keep North Carolina in the forefront, we’ve worked to make folks in Texas and Florida understand that they are going to be where we are a year from now.”

In true Princeville fashion, there is hope for a new tomorrow.

Mayor Pro Tem Joyner said, “I guess we just do like the song says and take it one day at a time.”

“You cannot run from God,” explained Worsley. “If a disaster is going to come it’s going to come. So my thing is to go on and enjoy life to the fullest, and know that what is for you is for you.”

Worsley said she is frequently asked why she doesn’t move considering the town is in a flood plain.

She explained it’s not that simple.

Worsley cited the history of her ancestors who built her home; her beloved Princeville.

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