Road to recovery remains long in Princeville two years after Hurricane Matthew

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— In historic Princeville in Edgecombe County, residents don’t want history to keep repeating itself.

Hurricane Matthew left the town devastated two years ago, the second flood in 17 years to leave the town under water.

Curtis Murphy said it took a year after the storm for him and his family to move back into his house. He can’t imagine living anywhere else, but any talk of heavy rain makes him nervous.

“It makes me feel sad. I’m scared it will happen again,” he said.

Many of Murphy’s neighbors never returned after Hurricane Matthew and he believes some may never come back.

Bridgers Food Store is one of seven businesses that has returned following Hurricane Matthew.

“The whole building was under water,” employee Brandon Winstad said of the store during the 2016 storm.

Winstad said it took a village to bring the flooded store back to the community meeting place it used to be.

“Everybody got together and got it back going together, got everything going right,” he said.

Princeville Commissioner Linda Joyner said progress hasn’t forgotten Princeville, but the road to recovery is slow and the hope is to keep floods at bay.

“If it ever comes to the point that Mother Nature says we got to go, and we hope that doesn’t happen, we’ll know when it’s time, but right now it’s not time,” Joyner said.

Before Hurricane Matthew, more than 700 residents lived in Princeville and about 500 of those people have returned. Two apartment complexes are up and running ad a mixed-use project covering more than 50 acres is on the drawing board.