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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edith Warren, August 28, 2002. Interview K-0601. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The rebirth of Princeville, North Carolina

Warren marvels at Princeville's flood recovery in this excerpt. It went from a silent town, free of birds and people (terrorized by a loose pig), to one where residents visit with one another on their front porches.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edith Warren, August 28, 2002. Interview K-0601. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EDITH WARREN:
I can ride through Princeville and I can cry again, because I am so excited to see what has happened there. The recent celebration that Congresswoman Eva Clayton put together was such a wonderful event, because folks had the opportunity to see the results of their hard work, and the efforts that were put in by the federal government, state government, local government, and the faith communities, individuals and friends who cared from all across the country. It has just been an experience that proves over again that in this country, when we work together, good things happen.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Would you say that Princeville is one of the best examples of flood recovery that you have seen?
EDITH WARREN:
Yes, I would say that, because they were just completely wiped off the map.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Right, literally.
EDITH WARREN:
Literally wiped off the map. And even though in years past there had been some flooding in that community, nothing that would even begin to compare with this – yards would be flooded on rare occasions, but –
LEDA HARTMAN:
Not a home underwater.
EDITH WARREN:
They were absolutely wiped away.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So we see some of the successes in Princeville – better housing ߞ. What are some of the other successes that you see in other parts of the area that you represent? What went right?
EDITH WARREN:
I think some of the major things that have gone right have been housing. Housing. Because houses that have been repaired, houses that have been replaced, are stronger, better, more comfortable conditions than they were before, whether it was a new home or whether it had been renovated. There are still some folks out there who, for various reasons, have fallen between the cracks, and the process is not completed for them. Also, with the additional funding opportunities, there has been some good infrastructure put in place with water and sewer and streets, infrastructure of good housing. So you know when we look back, if we can get past the destruction part, and look to the hope of tomorrow, and see what those good results have been. And it is just wonderful when you ride down the street and you see folks sitting on the porches, and visiting and laughing, and enjoying the sunshine of the day, so to speak, when you think three years ago, how devastated, how hurt, communities were.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Many communities. Not just Princeville, not just Grifton.
EDITH WARREN:
[House] Speaker Jim Black met me in Princeville during this process, and we went to ride. One of the church deputies took us through. There was not a sound. There were no birds to see. There were no children playing in the yards. I mean, just not a sound. The only living creature that we saw on the tour that day was a pig – and you've probably heard the story about the pig that was running around and they couldn't catch him. That was the absolute only sign of life.
LEDA HARTMAN:
I haven't heard the story about the pig. There was a pig running loose in Princeville?
EDITH WARREN:
There was a pig running loose. Don't know where he came from, but he was seen by a number of people, and reporters and so forth, but that was the only living thing. And not to hear a sound of a bird, nor see a bird flying, just reiterates the devastation. And that was just typical of what was going on throughout eastern North Carolina.