Officials agree to fix flooding on Eliot Avenue

Officials agree to fix flooding on Eliot Avenue

Coccia will get new driveway from town

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Diane Coccia says her rainy day "nightmares" should finally be coming to an end.

Mayor Charles Lombardi and other town officials assured the Eliot Avenue resident on Monday that she will no longer have to look out the window with dread when the skies above her home grow dark.

Members of Lombardi's administration, accompanied by representatives from the Department of Public Works and the town's engineer, D'Amico Engineering Technology, were visiting the Eliot Avenue neighborhood across from Lowe's to determine what could be done immediately to stop water from infiltrating Coccia's home.

They are going through the steps to find causes and long-term solutions to the flooding problems in this neighborhood, said Lombardi, but have decided to address Coccia's biggest complaints right away.

"We're going to dig out her driveway and give her a new driveway to start, raise it up about 12 inches," he said.

Town workers will do the demolition of the driveway before calling in an outside contractor. All the work should be done within the next week or 10 days, said Lombardi. When it's done, water should just "keep coming down the street" instead of flowing down over the top of the driveway and into her house and yard, which is gradually eroding each year.

Coccia said she was pleasantly surprised to see town officials show up at her home after years of complaints.

"I thought I was dreaming," she said.

The Woodville resident said she was overcome with emotion when she heard that her driveway would be redone.

"After all these years of waiting for something to be done about the road, the flooding, the grief, the sickness, I was in awe," said Coccia, who deals with a number of illnesses and blames at least some of her issues on repeated flooding and mold.

The plan as explained to Coccia is to first fix the driveway, where she believes the majority of her water flooding problem originates, and then to address possible issues with water bubbling up from an old drain pipe in the backyard.

Inspectors have determined that at least two drains on the street were paved over when a contractor repaved the road a decade ago, said Lombardi. One was a "dead drain" at the bottom of the hill below Coccia's home and the other was on Meola Street above her home. Blocking the dead drain made no difference, he said, but closing off the second one likely caused problems.

"That started to send an abundance of water down the street," he said.

Town officials say they have been unable to determine who did the last repaving of the road and have no documentation on file about the job.

Using his trademark line, Lombardi said the repaving work was done B.C., or "before Charlie," back when roads were often just paved over instead of being ground down first. His administration's policy is to always "scarify" a road before repaving it, said the mayor.

Lombardi said there are currently no plans to uncover the drain on Meola, as the water would only be diverted down to the catch basin where the dead drain is and would have nowhere to go from there.

Coccia says her water problems didn't start until Eliot Avenue was repaved. She said prior to Monday's meeting that she didn't want to sue the town.

"I just want them to do right by me," she said.

David D'Amico, owner of D'Amico Engineering, told The Breeze that he expected a survey of the area to be done by Wednesday. After that survey is complete, town officials will have a better idea what other solutions might be in order. Depending on the results of the D'Amico survey, recommended fixes could end up reducing flooding problems in other yards as well, said Lombardi.

The central subject of the investigation is an old drainpipe that runs through the backyards of Coccia and her neighbors. Officials have determined that there is an easement going back to 1911 that allows them to do work on the pipe without permission in all yards except Coccia's, but Coccia has granted permission for them to do the work in her yard too.

Workers will complete tests in Coccia's backyard to determine how high the water table is and to see if additional measures should be taken, said Lombardi.

"It's our belief that there's a high water table in that yard and all the yards nearby," he said.

The backyard pipe itself, which is made of clay in spots, may need to be repaired, said Lombardi.

Coccia thanked town officials for finally answering her requests for help. She thanked the Town Council for calling in an engineer to start getting answers.

Coccia said she plans to continue fighting for her neighborhood to get other roads repaired and flooding problems rectified. Though she's happy her own problems will be addressed, helping others is "the only right thing to do," she said.