You raise me up: Hundreds of coastal RI homes could be elevated against floods

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WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — If you own a home along Rhode Island’s coast, you might be offered the chance to enter a program that would elevate your home against floods and sea-level rise.

Several homes are now elevated in the area of Misquamicut Beach, after Hurricane Sandy did devastating damage in 2012.

“The elevation makes sense,” said Grover Fugate, executive director of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. “The question is how much, and how many. That is what we are still discussing with the [Army Corps of Engineers].”

Fugate and the CRMC are working on a project with the Corps known as “The Pawcatuck River Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study.” It involves potentially elevating about 340 homes from Westerly to Narragansett.

A homeowner who signs on would have to pay up to 35 percent of elevation costs. The Army Corps of Engineers would cover the rest. The estimated cost of elevating all the homes is $60 million, meaning a price tag of $39 million for the Corps.

While it’s not cheap, Fugate says the elevation cost isn’t even close to the insurance expense of a lost home — an expense sometimes reaching $350,000, which is often shouldered by the government, and in the end, taxpayers.

The Corps has a list of homes to consider for the program, but has not released it, because not all the homeowners have been contacted about it yet.

A public information session is set for December.