US Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters Website

Princeville, North Carolina, Flood Risk Management Project, 9 December 2015

Princeville FRMABSTRACT:  The project is a response to Executive Order 13146, reducing flood risk and damages as well as lessening the threat to life and safety, in the historic town of Princeville.  The town is the first municipality in the United States incorporated by former slaves.  The town is subject to severe flooding from the adjacent Tar River during hurricane and storm events. The non-Federal sponsor for project is the State of North Carolina, Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Resources.

The town of Princeville suffered multiple flood events, and in 1967, the Corps of Engineers built a levee along the Tar River under the continuing authority of Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948 to address the frequent and severe flooding.  Although the area continued to experience significant flood events, the levee reduced flood risk to the town until Hurricane Floyd in 1999 (a magnitude greater than 0.2% event), when the town suffered catastrophic flooding and the damage or destruction of 1,000 residential structures.  As a result of the catastrophic flooding and historical significance of the town, then-President Clinton issued Executive Order 13146, which established a ‘President’s Council on the Future of Princeville, North Carolina’ to consider “the unique historic and cultural importance of Princeville in American history;…the views and recommendations of the relevant State and local governments, the private sector, citizens, community groups and non-profit organizations, on actions that they could take to enhance the future of Princeville and its citizens;…and, agency assessments and recommendations to repair and rebuild Princeville, and to the extent practicable, protect Princeville from future floods.”

Multiple structural and non-structural measures and alternatives were examined during the course of the feasibility study, which was initiated in 2002.  The Feasibility Scoping Meeting, held in 2006, discussed the likelihood that many of the most responsive plans might lack economically-justified alternatives that would meet the current guidance requiring National Economic Development (NED) justification.  Accordingly, and consistent with E.O. 13146, study recommendations were based upon outputs associated with Other Social Effects (OSE)  pursuant to the “Economic and Environmental Principles for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies” issued by President Ronald Reagan in February 1983, The Final Array of Alternatives consisted of a No-Action Plan and an array of structural and non-structural alternatives.  Each alternative was formulated to provide an incremental solution to flood risk at the least cost for a given increment of flooding, as well as a suite of non-structural measures considered to be critical to the success of each alternative.  Structural measures considered included levee extensions/raises, bypass channel construction, dam/reservoir constriction, and flood proofing.  Non-structural measures included a flood warning and evacuation plan, continued floodplain management and updating of local building and zoning codes, and a flood risk management education and communication plan (for both the community and local schools).

The Recommended Plan is Alternative 4, and consists of the extension of an existing on-site levee, installation of culvert flapgates, intersection and road improvements, and shoulder levee construction.  The Recommended Plan is not the National Economic Development (NED) plan and has a benefit to cost ratio of less than one (0.5 to one).  The NED plan would not provide significant flood risk reduction to the town of Princeville, because it fails to address the most dangerous source of flooding: the by-passing of the existing levee at its northern terminus.  It is this source of flooding that crosses farm fields north of town, severs highway NC-111, and fills Princeville to great depth and extent.  The Recommended Plan was selected because it substantially reduces risk from that source of flood flow, thus providing substantial life-safety risk reduction and also preserving access to evacuation routing.  The Recommended Plan is the OSE Plan, and is also the plan that most cost-effectively reduces risk to the town.  In accordance with the Economic and Environmental Principles, an exception to NED policy was granted by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) on July 19, 2012, allowing the Corps to move forward with the plan recommended in the feasibility report.

The total estimated first cost of the Recommended Plan is $21,540,000 with a fully funded cost of $27,080,000.  The Federal share of the first cost is $14,001,000.  The non-Federal share of the first cost is $7,539,000, with the LERRD requirement of $5,729,000 and estimated average annual OMRR&R costs of $57,760.  Based on the current 3.125 percent discount rate and a 50-year period of analysis, the total equivalent average annual costs of the project are estimated to be $997,924.  The equivalent average annual benefits are estimated to be $459,870 with net average annual benefits of $-538,054. The benefit-cost ratio is approximately 0.5 to 1.

REPORT DOCUMENTATION:  Pertinent documentation on the project, the results of the Civil Works Review Board, and subsequent Washington-Level Review Actions are listed below (items not linked will be provided when available):

  • CWRB Agenda
  • Project Map/Placemat
  • Project Summary
  • CWRB Briefing Slides
  • CWRB Lessons Learned
  • CWRB Meeting Record
  • State & Agency Review Comments Letters
  • Documentation of Review Findings
  • Signed Chief of Engineers Report
  • Advanced Copy to Congressional Committees
  • ASA (CW) Memo to OMB
  • OMB Response
  • ASA (CW) Transmittal to Congress
  • Signed Finding of No Significant Impact
  • Authorization