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Grandmother living in badly burned house: ‘I’m trying’


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — One grandmother in the Soulsville neighborhood of Memphis is hoping to turn a badly burned house into a home by rebuilding everything one step at a time — she just needs help.

The resident of the South Memphis home says it may not look like much now, but she hopes one day this will be somewhere her family can call home. 

Carol Monagan is living in a home with a 3-year-old grandchild, three other family members and a pet. After a recent fire, the house is missing large portions of its roof, and doesn’t have utilities.

Monagan is originally from New York, where she used to do construction. She moved to Memphis four years ago to be closer to her fiance’s family after being told by doctors she was sick.

“I have mild degenerative arthritis on my spine. I had to have surgery on my knees,” said Monagan.

After living with family members for a few years and getting her health better, they tried living on their own but were soon evicted. 

However, she did not let that discourage her. She took all she had and says she bought the house last month. It’s unclear from county records whether she owns the property.

“The house that was under fire a little over a year ago. But I thought maybe, with what checks we get, we can slowly get the house done. But it’s not working the way I was hoping,” said Monagan.

Carol and five other people, including one child and pets, are currently living in this condition, leaning on a neighbor for help and trying to do as much as she can to make this house her dream home.

“We do have water. Neighbors do let us have water when we need it. They do try to make sure we have food if we need it. We do make sure the kids eat every night,” said Monagan. “But I’m trying. I’m working on the inside to clean it out slowly because I have to sit down to do it so I don’t fall.”

Records show at least two complaints have been made to the city’s 311 system concerning the property since May — one for a derelict structure complaint.

Carol said she has tried reaching out for help from 311 to get the trash, but without a phone and electricity it has been a challenge. On top of that, most of her neighbors have not been welcoming of her plans. 

“I’m constantly getting the cops called on me because they are doing child welfare checks on me. I am getting super tired of it. I don’t know what else to do, I am trying to make this house a home,” said Monagan.

However, she is not giving up. She believes her dream home is just one paint job and nail hammered away. 

“The outside of the house would be not brown. The outside the house would be like a teal. The inside, I haven’t really decided, not white. I’m tired of whites. Something Bright, happy colors on the inside,” said Monagan. “It’s a five-bedroom, three-bath house. And we want to make it into a six, or seven bedroom with four bathrooms.”

She says she is not sure if it will happen anytime soon, but she will keep doing her best, not only for herself but also for her grandchildren. 

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