Cumberland poised to buy out flooded house with federal funds

Cumberland poised to buy out flooded house with federal funds

CUMBERLAND - The last time their house flooded, it was late March of 2010.

That's when Sergio Sousa abandoned his 35 Wildwood St. home for the last time.

Five years earlier, when the Blackstone River had swelled to overflowing, he'd tried to recover, tossing out thousands of dollars worth of furniture and treasured items.

But the rains of 2010 defeated him. While neighbors were left to cope with flooded basements, the living spaces of his more secluded raised ranch home saw water rise some seven feet up the stairs and into the kitchen.

And while he'll never recoup what was lost, this week, more than four years later, the Town Council was poised to approve the town's purchase of the property for $231,700 using federal disaster relief funds.

Once all the paperwork is finally completed, Cumberland will bulldoze and seed the land, says Mayor Daniel McKee, who notes the property could satisfy the state demand for a replacement to the Currier-Chace Playground on Broad Street if the playground is sold for charter school construction.

It might also work as a community garden, he said.

The property, made up of three small lots that total about .3 acres, sits at the end of Wildwood Street, behind the Dominoes Pizza on Mendon Road. It backs up to the railroad track and within stone's throw to a small pond created by a channel of the Blackstone River.

The town last assessed its value at $102,500.

According to the buyout plan, Cumberland has collected $79,053 in Community Development Block Grant funds under the Disaster Relief program. It also has $221,158 under Hazard Mitigation Grant Program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA.

Sergio and wife Scottie will recoup $231,700 while the remaining $69,511 will be spent on administration, demolition and remediation.

The estimated cost of demolition is $11,000, including a $1,000 asbestos survey.

This week, McKee told The Breeze that part of the story has to be the four years it's taken to resolve this.

While the Sousas continued paying the mortgage on the uninhabitable house, the federal officials seemed to move at a snail's pace.

"He's gone through a lot of personal agony," McKee said of Sergio Sousa. "You really have got to question the efficiency for the government to spend this long."

The Sousas were not immediately available to comment.