Elderly residents are due to start moving back in to flats at their sheltered housing scheme in Windermere after being flooded out during Storm Desmond in December.
Eight ground floor flats, along with the communal lounge and kitchen areas, were flooded at the South Lakes Housing (SLH) owned Birthwaite sheltered accommodation during the height of the storm on 5 December.
Four tenants had to be evacuated to an emergency reception centre set up by South Lakeland District Council at the Marchesi Centre in Windermere, before being moved to other vacant flats, nearby nursing homes or to stay with family.
SLH has now completed repair works on some of the flats at Birthwaite and the first three tenants are due to move back in from Friday 12th February. These include 102-year-old Aileen Bostock, who was able to move in with her son in Windermere during the Christmas period and then into a local nursing home until the flats were ready.
Staff at SLH managed to rescue Mrs Bostock’s cherished telegrams from the Queen when her ground-floor flat flooded. Mrs Bostock is moving back into a refurbished first floor flat at Birthwaite.
Another of the returning residents is 90-year-old Mrs Willis, who was placed in the guest room at Birthwaite whilst her flat was repaired and she will be the first tenant to move back into her own flat on Friday.
John Mansergh, Assistant Director at South Lakes Housing, explained: “The flood water started coming in at about 2pm on 5 December and one of our joiners, Dave Harris, was able to get out to isolate the electrics and then worked with a carer to help the tenants.
“Within half an hour the situation had got a whole lot worse with the lift flooded and five foot deep floodwater flowing through the corridors.
“A 999 call was made and mountain rescue teams and the fire service helped with the evacuation, with one elderly lady in a wheelchair carried to safety along with three other vulnerable residents.’’
The flooding caused £200,000 worth of damage at Birthwaite. Repair work has included removing flood-damaged carpets, skirting boards, plaster, doors, kitchens and sterilising concrete floors, before re-fitting the flats with new woodwork, kitchens, flooring, walls and decoration.
The work has been completed by the SLH repairs team with the help of plasterers from MK Conversions of Sedbergh, flooring from Nevinson’s Carpets of Ulverston and sterilising by UPM, also from Ulverston.
The flood repairs at Birthwaite come just over a year since SLH spent £270,000 on ‘dementia friendly’ improvements at the 46 flat scheme, which included better signage, a new entrance, a sensory garden and upgrades to the communal lounge and lighting.
Storm Desmond was responsible for damaging 62 of SLH’s 3,000 properties across South Lakeland. SLH is working with local contractors and nationwide regeneration firm ‘Keepmoat’ to accelerate the repairs programme meaning that all flood-affected tenants should be back in their homes by the end of June.