Home for the holidays? Not here

Home for the holidays? Not here

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Diane Coccia says she may never hear the pitter-patter of little feet in her house.

The North Providence woman, desperate for answers after years of flooding in her Eliot Avenue home, says she has now been dealt a blow far more personal than being forced to clean out the basement again.

Her daughter, expecting to give birth to Coccia's first grandchild next March, will no longer set foot in her home for fear of getting sick from possible contamination inside. She has also made it clear that her baby boy, when born, will not be coming over.

"At first I was really hurt," said Coccia, who is a widow. "I'm heartbroken, but now I understand. I wouldn't come here either."

Because Coccia has the only house big enough for a Christmas celebration, her family will need to rent a home somewhere that's big enough for everyone to fit. They'll need the house from Christmas Eve day until the day after Christmas, said Coccia.

Even when her daughter was still coming over, said Coccia, she would only stay for 10 minutes and then "go home to take a shower."

The whole house "smells wet," said Coccia. She knows there are issues with mold, but she cannot afford to either test for problems or to remedy them.

She tries to keep her home as clean as she can, but with muddy water rushing in every time the heavy rains fall, the task has proven difficult.

The Breeze reported in March that Coccia was losing pieces of her home due to continued flooding. She and her neighbors blame the problems on a town drain pipe running through her backyard that is never maintained and workers repaving over Eliot Avenue 10 years ago without first grinding down the old asphalt first. She says water now easily rushes over the edge of her driveway.

Coccia, who suffers from numerous medical issues, said she doesn't know the exact science behind the flooding, but she knows life wasn't always this way.

Coccia said she has contacted everyone she can think who might be able to help her address the flooding, but "there is no response from anyone."

She would love to sell her house, said Coccia, but can't bring herself to do it.

"How can I in good conscience sell this house when I have this many issues," she said.

Even if she could get someone to bite, said Coccia, she knows she wouldn't be able to get more than $125,000, the price she paid for the home nearly 25 years ago.

"I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't," she said. "I would love to just be able to board it up and walk away."

Mayor Charles Lombardi told The Breeze he planned to meet with Coccia this week to hear her concerns about the flooding.

The mayor said he feels badly for Coccia and is doing what he can to possibly find money to fix Eliot Avenue. This street and others like it were paved over "B.C.," or "before Charlie," as Lombardi puts it, but that doesn't mean town officials shouldn't find a solution, he said.

"I'm going to try to help," he said.

Lombardi said he has put in a request that some of the grant money allocated for the repair of Evergreen Parkway be reallocated to Eliot Avenue. It appears that many of the flooding issues on Evergreen Parkway have been addressed, he said, meaning some money might be available.

The "$64,000 question" will be to figure out all of the exact causes for the flooding at Coccia's house, said Lombardi, and to figure out whether the drainpipe out back is indeed causing some of the flooding.

"I have no problem discussing it and trying to figure it out," he said. "Then, guess what, it's going to get fixed."