TARBORO, NORTH CAROLINA —
In North Carolina, where flooding along rivers has eased enough for some residents to start returning to their homes, the governor has pledged help rebuild one of the hard-hit historic towns.
Governor Pat McCrory on Thursday made an aerial tour of Princeville, one of the country's oldest towns charted by African-Americans.
The town, overrun by floodwaters created by Hurricane Matthew, was also inundated in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd.
The governor said National Guard troops have been sent to Princeville with high-water vehicles to ensure no one loots stores or steals from vacant homes.
“I want to let them know we will be with you, and we'll do everything we can to help you rebuild this city,” McCrory said. “And also, steps need to be taken where this won't happen again in the future.”
McCrory said the flooding may be worse than what's occurring to the south in Lumberton.
The flooding triggered by heavy rain from Matthew - which killed more than 500 people in Haiti - has left at least 38 dead in the U.S.
McCrory said the number of statewide power outages continues to drop, down to about 44,000 from a peak of more than 800,000 Sunday. He reported the state's death toll climbed to 22.
But McCrory said flooding continues to be a major problem in poor areas in the eastern part of the state.
“It's a surreal experience to see this on a sunshiny day,” McCrory said.
Floyd roared ashore on September 15, 1999, not long after another hurricane saturated the state. Two days later, the rising Tar River engulfed Princeville in water 20 feet deep near the town hall.
Princeville's history as one of the country's first towns created by freed slaves in 1865 helped boost a rebuilding effort. The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave $26 million to Princeville's residents and another $1.5 million to the town.