Updated March 28 at 12:29am

Rising above tide in Westerly

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

When the sea comes in and washes through your house, it’s a disturbingly clear message that it’s time to elevate.

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Rising above tide in Westerly


When the sea comes in and washes through your house, it’s a disturbingly clear message that it’s time to elevate.

“We had 14 to 17 inches of water go through the first floor of our house” a year ago from the remnants of Superstorm Sandy, said Tom Retano, whose home on the Weekapaug Breachway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to Winnapaug Pond is going to be raised one story, about 11 feet or 12 feet, with funding assistance from a Hazard Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Retano is one of eight Misquamicut homeowners who will receive a portion of a $678,000 FEMA award to the town of Westerly, announced Dec. 6.

For those getting the FEMA grants to elevate their homes, much of the work begins now.

Homeowners will have to get structural engineers, create drawings, find contractors and get three quotes on the cost of elevation projects, said Amy Grzybowski, director of planning, code enforcement and grant administration for the town.

Some of those projects will start moving along fairly quickly after the first of the year if there are no major variances required for issues such as height, but all projects will have to be approved by the town, said Grzybowski. More expansive and complex projects will take more time. The town is applying for additional hazard-mitigation grants, she said.

It’s all part of the recovery from the October 2012 damage left in Sandy’s wake that varies with each house and property owner, said Grzybowski.

“In general, Misquamicut has recovered very well. The majority of people got their work done last winter and were back for the past summer,” said Grzybowski.

“Many people are still in the process of starting to repair their homes, and some people are waiting for insurance funding,” she said. “We’re still seeing permits for people trying to work on their houses.

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While one has to sympathize with the homeowners, why does the taxpayer have to pay for storm mitigation. Houses by the ocean are clearly subject to risk from storms and rising sea waters (if you believe the "Global Warming" crowd. Development should be discouraged along the shores, or at least ensure owners pay for mitigation and damage themselves. Costs due to reckless decisions should be paid by the owners. And that includes flood insurance!

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