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Almshouse flood prompts rapid response from Mulberry PM

10 May 2021

Mulberry PM’s proactive policy of helping residents of properties we manage stay safe at all times was tested in dramatic fashion when an almshouse we manage was flooded during a recent downpour.

Our team leapt into action as soon as a resident of Wandesford House, York, rang to say water was pouring down internal walls and staircases and the electricity was outed as a result of the late afternoon deluge.

Flood disruption at Wandesford House

Managing Director Anya Mathewson and Head of Property Management Laura Street raced straight round the Grade II* listed building, Operations Director Graeme Dixon sourced towels to help stem the flow of water, and Almshouse Administrator Emma Davis began summoning our trusted team of contractors to help.

Anya and Laura arrived to find five flats were uninhabitable due to water damage and/ or lack of electricity, carpets were sodden and water was tumbling down the stairs close to a new stairlift which had been installed only that morning under our supervision.

Having first ensured that the lady residents of the almshouse were safe and dry in the communal lounge, in an area of the house which was unaffected by the flooding, Anya and Laura started briefing contractors. “We could see that the issue seemed to be a blocked and overflowing hopper (which funnels water from the gutter into the downpipe) 20ft above ground at the back of house,” said Anya.

The offending blocked hopper at Wandesford House

Over the next three and a half hours, the Mulberry PM team were joined by experts from our reliable and effective team of contractors: property maintenance specialists MFP; Geoff Neal Roofing; TN Electrical Services and Andy’s Carpet Cleaning York.

Between them they made safe the electrics, identified and removed the cause of the hopper blockage (a squirrel’s nest which had remained undisturbed during one of the driest Aprils on record), removed excess water with a 90ft hose and installed two giant fans to help the house and contents dry out further. Throughout the operation, Mulberry staff and contractors observed all Covid protocols on masks, distancing and use of hand sanitisers.

Emma managed to book the residents, one of whom has mobility issues, into rooms at the Premier Inn and Graeme then drove them round there, where they ordered a fish and chip supper.

Meanwhile Laura started an insurance claim with specialist brokers. Anya emailed all the trustees to keep them updated and spoke to Chair of the Wandesford House Trustees Elizabeth Hey.

Water flowing down the Wandesford House interiors

The team did not leave Wandesford House until four hours after the first emergency call, when they were satisfied that the almshouse was safe, the flooded areas were drying out, and that all of the remaining residents were comfortable.

Laura, Anya and electrician Neil returned the next morning to check on the ladies’ welfare and make sure the electrics had dried out sufficiently to be safe for all the residents to return to their homes. Mulberry PM will now oversee repairs and redecoration at the almshouse, which was built in 1739.

Flowers sent to our team by the Wandesford House trustees

Anya said: “I’m very proud of the way the Mulberry PM staff reacted quickly and professionally to ensure our residents were safe and help was at hand. I was also delighted that our fantastic contractors arrived at the scene so promptly and worked together to put things right at this historic building which is also a valued home.”

Thanking Mulberry PM on behalf of the Wandesford House trustees, Elizabeth Hey said: “What a relief for the residents and ourselves to have Mulberry PM here for us at times of crisis. We’re so grateful that the team knows the various workmen who could be contacted immediately, and that they worked so promptly to help residents who had to move to the Premier Inn, or to stay with family.”

Mulberry PM works with trustees and board members to help manage the day-to-day operation of almshouses on a bespoke basis. Our MD Anya Mathewson is the Almshouse Association’s Regional Champion for Yorkshire and is happy to give advice on managing a successful almshouse. Contact Anya for an informal chat or to find out how we can help your almshouse residents live independently and with dignity.