SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A South Kingstown woman bought her “dream” home only to learn it’s one of the most exposed on the Rhode Island coastline.
Dhamarys Murillo reached out to 12 News for help after seeing a Target 12’s report on a federal Army Corps of Engineers program to help South County coastal residents elevate their houses.
After buying the home for $950,000 in December, Murillo said she learned the house needed to be moved inland and raised several feet in order to reduce “overwhelming” flood insurance costs.
The price tag to move it up and back: up to $150,000.
“Everybody that comes over here–they think I’m rich,” Murillo said. “They don’t realize that I have four jobs to be able to make my dream come true.”
Murillo, who said she moved to Rhode Island from the Dominican Republic when she was 19 and put herself through nursing school, thought the 480-square-foot home was something she could afford. She said it’s been six years since she started searching for a new home on the beach, and with the way the housing market was trending, she thought it was now or never.
“I was just focusing on my dream–I wasn’t thinking about the aftermath,” she said.
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But the Army Corps program is not an option for Murillo. Bryan Purtell, a spokesperson for the agency, told Target 12 the program to elevate South County homes is no longer accepting applicants, despite only about 30% of eligible homeowners choosing to participate.
“If they offered it and a lot of people didn’t take it, they still have that money,” Murillo said. “So why not keep it open until the money’s depleted?”
Purtell said the remainder of the program’s funding will “be reprogrammed and used for other purposes,” but didn’t specify what those would be.
Melissa Carden, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, told Target 12 that Murillo may qualify for a Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant — or BRIC grant — but the town would need to apply on her behalf.
“That’s great news, great news,” Murillo said when Target 12 told her. “I’m hoping that the town will help me.”
While her situation may seem unique, Murillo is actually far from alone.
According to the nonprofit Flood Factor, which specializes in capturing America’s flood risk, 15% of properties in Murillo’s zip code — 02879 — have a greater than 26% chance of being severely affected by flooding over the next 30 years.
That amounts to more than 1,500 South Kingstown properties.
For Murillo, at least, the risk is worth it.
“This country gave me an opportunity, and I’m taking it,” she said. “You have to pursue your dreams.”