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PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Many homeowners in historic Princeville, North Carolina, could be eligible for the federal government to buy their flood-damaged properties so they can move, but the decision isn’t entirely up to them.

Under federal rules, the town council will decide that issue.

Hundreds of homes were damaged when Hurricane Matthew struck in October. The town suffered similar damage from Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Mayor Bobbie Jones says he opposes buyouts because they would erode Princeville’s small tax base. Any acquired property can’t be developed again. And that hurts the town’s bottom line.

Princeville was settled at the end of the Civil War. It was the first town in the U.S. incorporated by African-Americans

After Hurricane Floyd, city officials rejected a buyout and opted to keep the town intact.

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