Princeville school slated to re-open

FLood-Princeville Elementary Exterior shot.jpg

Princeville Elementary School stands abandoned in the aftermath of flooding.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Princeville Elementary School students will likely be attending their own school by January 2020, more than three years after their school was destroyed by flood waters.

Jerome Williams, director of maintenance for Edgecombe County Public Schools, had good news to share with board of education members last week as he presented an update on the renovations.

“We are still 10 days ahead of schedule — knock on wood,” Williams said. “And so far, we are still under budget.”

Williams said that all the piping and electrical work underground have been completed and the concrete floors have been poured.

"We have torn out all the drywall and are replacing that with concrete block. That should be completed in about two weeks. We may be able to schedule a walk through for the school board members in July,” Williams said.

Much of the work that is now being done is part of the hazard mitigation efforts designed to prevent the school from suffering as badly as the result of future floods as this is the second time in 20 years Princeville Elementary has been affected. In 1999, the school was destroyed by flood waters from Hurricane Floyd. It was completely rebuilt at that point but suffered significant damage from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

Since then, more than 200 Princeville Elementary students have been meeting in the Bridgers Building, an older school building on Panola Street in Tarboro.

The current Princeville Elementary School reconstruction will feature a number of new elements, including polished concrete floors, flood vents in exterior walls and platforms to place the HVAC unit, freezer and condensing units above the flood line.

Many of these hazard mitigation efforts were recommended to the school district by FEMA, which is covering the $2,800,000 mitigation costs plus another $1,000,000 to cover the contents of the school lost during the flood. Insurance on the building will cover another $1,990,000 for the cost of repairs, bringing the total funding for the project to $5,790,000.

The lowest bid for the project was $6,179,249, but some of that money could be saved if the project remains under budget.

“I think it is important that we include these measures because I feel that the buildings will likely be flooded again,” Ann Kent, vice chairwoman of the Edgecombe County Board of Education, said in at an earlier school board meeting.

The projected date of occupancy for Princeville is the end of December, Williams said.

“If everything stays on schedule, we should be able to move everything back into the classrooms before we go home for Christmas, so the kids will be able to attend classes there in January,” Williams said.

Work on the school district’s professional development building, which was also damaged in the flood, is now complete, Williams said. The school district is now awaiting the issuance for the certificate of occupancy.

“We are expecting this any day now,” Williams said. “We don’t have a local building inspector here, so that has to come from Rocky Mount. Whenever I get that in hand, we can begin occupying it the following week.”