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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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NC Coastal Communities in Limbo After Hurricane Matthew

Princeville is among the North Carolina towns that remain devastated by the floods from Hurricane Matthew in October. (Erica Smith-Ingram)
Princeville is among the North Carolina towns that remain devastated by the floods from Hurricane Matthew in October. (Erica Smith-Ingram)
January 18, 2017

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. – "Should I stay or should I go?" That's the question for thousands of residents on the North Carolina coast, who remain displaced by Hurricane Matthew.

The deadline to leave temporary housing has been extended to February, but for residents of public housing, answers aren't expected by then. The feds haven't decided whether or where to rebuild.

The town manager of Princeville, Daniel Gerald, says that puts the town's economic future in jeopardy.

"Government officials are telling them to move to different locations, so we're losing our population," he said. "It's our tax base, and we're a small town to begin with, so we can ill-afford to lose our tax base."

In Edgecombe County alone, four multi-unit public housing structures were destroyed, and 300 people remain displaced, in a town with historical significance. Princeville was founded by slaves in 1885, and some fear losing a piece of history if most residents leave.

In a statement, FEMA says it is "working closely with the state and other partners to identify many housing options for those impacted by Matthew."

Doris Stith lives in Edgecombe County and says while she wasn't directly affected, she knows people who are living with uncertainty.

"Those who are in subsidized housing, their decision to move forward is based upon HUD and others who are providing housing," she said. "Are they going to rebuild? Are they going to relocate?"

Gerald believes it's time for FEMA to match the quick action taken in other natural disasters in recent years.

"It feels like we're almost being punished for being prepared," Gerald added. "We have people in hotels; we have people taken care of, as far as their immediate needs. Now, the government seems to be taking their time about bringing in trailers, and I know for a fact that they were bringing in temporary trailers in Louisiana, in West Virginia. Why are you not bringing them in here?"

Because of the winter storms, FEMA extended the application deadline for homeowners to apply for help to Mon., Jan. 23.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC