A look at the floods in Appleby from one of our Agents, Amanda Wallbank.

Amanda, who runs NFU Mutual’s Appleby branch worked closely with customers throughout the devastating floods that took hold in December 2015. We are very proud to be able to share this video about how her and her team supported customers to make a real difference. We'd like to thank our customers who worked with us to produce this film:

 

To find out more about the events that unfolded in Appleby after Storm Desmond hit, read Amanda’s account of what happened:

"I have lived, worked and supported our members in Appleby for nearly 5 years. It is a town and community that I love and it was extremely saddening to watch the chaos unfold after Storm Desmond hit. 

The morning after the storm I waded through knee-deep water to get to our office, witnessing local business owners desperately trying to salvage their belongings on the way. The water from the river was at a level that I had never witnessed before.

As I pushed my way through the water towards our office I still thought that we would be lucky as our office is at a higher level, but as we got inside I realised I was wrong.  When I entered my heart sank, the water level had been so high in town that it had come inside the office. The water had already been drawn up the walls and lots of our furniture was ruined. 

It was clear at this point that a number of our customers would have been impacted very badly and I knew we needed to act fast.

I contacted loss adjusters and our disaster recovery partner, Servicemaster, immediately.

Both were in very high demand, but I was able to ensure that they would be available to us, which was a huge relief.  They were with us on Monday morning and we started visiting as many of our customers as we could, another important job at that time was organising and coordinating skips.

With the office out of action and no access to landlines, we had a bit of a technological nightmare. For the first three days the team and I were using our mobile phones, we put signs up at the office and contacted Radio Cumbria in order to apologise for our lines being down and provide a number to call.

I remember on that first day I had 111 calls to my mobile - so many people needed our help.

My colleague, Caroline, and I covered the town between us, visiting every customer with one loss adjuster each.  As we travelled, each of us was extremely touched by the community spirit – everyone was helping one another and some were even providing food and drink; the support people have received has been amazing.

No two days have been the same and we’ve certainly been kept on our toes. Over Christmas I was dealing with a range of issues and calls; from speaking to flood coordinators about what local farmers should do with dead sheep, to sourcing sandbags for some of our more elderly customers.

Christmas Day was a little different this year as we were working to provide two Christmas dinners and chocolates to help feed the Army who were in Appleby putting in further flood defences. The support from the wider community has been incredible; we’ve been sent presents and cleaning products from Preston and received food parcels from a Muslim community in Leicester, it’s all been very touching.

It’s certainly been an experience, and there’s still so much work to do. Our office now has no doors or skirting boards and the plaster is being removed, which is very sad; having no office is making life even more difficult, so we can’t wait to get back in there. Thankfully we have the use of the NFU Mutual Show Trailer which means we can be on hand to help our customers in whatever way we possibly can.

As we move in to the next phase, we are arranging regular visits by our Loss Adjusters and visiting our customers as often as we can.  We realise the importance of helping the claims move forward as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Although these events have been disastrous, the floods have really brought everyone in the town together and it’s been amazing to witness. 

We have received great comments about the service we have provided and this is down to a real team effort by everyone involved. People have been popping by to thank us for our support. It’s great to know that we’re making a difference to the community and we are working hard to continue with this over the next few months.”