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Ruptured Pipes Cause Flooding, Kitchen Shutdown At Heatherwood Gracious Retirement Living

Feb 04, 2019 12:06PM ● By Bill Gilman
Tewksbury Health Department officials are encouraging, though not ordering, residents of Heatherwood Gracious Retirement Living to temporarily relocate, while plumbers work to repair ruptured pipes at the facility.
The initial ruptures took place Friday, leaving the facility without running water. According to a Heatherwood spokesperson, the problem was thought to have been solved on Sunday, but quickly recurred.
A section of the facility's dining room as been damaged by flooding from the burst pipes.
Health Director Susan Sawyer said her office was not notified of the problem until Monday morning, at which time an inspector was sent to the facility and its kitchen was ordered shut down.
"The kitchen had to be closed," said Sawyer. "You don't have running water, so people can't wash their hands. There was no choice."
With the kitchen closed, Heatherwood is ordering in catered lunches for its residents.
According to the spokesperson, Heatherwood is currently at capacity with 140 residents. As a "retirement" rather than "assisted living" facility, all of the residents are self-sufficient. Some have chosen to stay with family or friends until the pipes are repaired and water is restored. However, many have chosen to remain.
According to the spokesperson, Heather is providing the remaining residents with bottled water to drink and bringing in water in buckets to allow for toilets to be flushed.
What they cannot do is provide enough water for bathing, which some residents require daily due to health conditions. Those residents are being strongly encouraged to relocate on a temporary basis.
According to Sawyer, officials at the Tewksbury Senior Center are also working with the staff at Heatherwood to provide any resources that may be needed while the pipes are being worked on.
One positive note, according to the Heatherwood spokesperson, the facility's fire suppression system is still fully functional.
Tewksbury Fire Department and Health Department personnel are keeping a close watch on the situation. Plumbers have told Heatherwood officials it could take until Tuesday or Wednesday until the pipes are completely repaired.
Sawyer said it concerned her that the Health Department wasn't notified of the problem for three days and that Heatherwood didn't seem to have a viable emergency plan to execute when the pipes ruptured on Friday.
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