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Movies UK >Emergency Evacuation in Town over Severe Flooding & Dam Collapse

Whaley Bridge Dam 'Collapse': Town Evacuated as 'Danger to Life' Warning Issued

An Emergency Evacuation is in Place at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire After Toddbrook Reservoir Has Been Severely Damaged by Heavy Rain


Daily Mirror UK, 1 Aug 2019






The scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire (Image: David Brocklehurst / SWNS)


An RAF Chinook helicopter is being deployed to help save the dam.

Last night Derbyshire's Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann said pumps were being used to take water from the reservoir before work could begin on supporting the wall.

She added: “To move the substantial amount of aggregate into place – a Chinook helicopter will be operating in the area in the coming hours to allow precise placement and divert the flow of the water.

“With all that said, at this time the future of the dam wall remains in the balance and I would remind people of the very real danger posed to them should the wall collapse.

“At this moment we have no time that we can give to residents when they will be able to get back into their homes."





Workers use torchlight to inspect damage done to the Toddbrook reservoir overflow (Image: James Speakman/Mercury Press)


Residents in a picturesque rural town have been told to evacuate immediately - or face arrest - over fears a crumbling dam could collapse 'within hours' following flash floods.

The Environment Agency is warning there is a serious 'danger to life' in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, and to 'get out ASAP'.

It comes as a wall around Toddbrook Reservoir, which has been severely damaged after heavy rain battered the region, is on the brink of cracking, posing a major flooding risk.

There are grave concerns lives could be claimed if the wall collapses, causing 300 million gallons of water to gush into the area.

And an expert believes it is only a matter of a "few hours" before the dam could become "fully broken".

One local said it would "wipe half the village off the map.”





Multiple taskforce are working on a plan to secure the wall (Image: James Speakman/Mercury Press)





A total of ten high-volume pumps have been brought in tonight (Image: Tom Maddick SWNS)


Derbyshire Police tonight enforced further evacuations in the nearby areas of Furness Vale and New Mills.

The force described it as a "unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation".

It is a multi-agency taskforce involving the Environment Agency, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, the Canal River Trust to work on a plan to secure the wall.

The force said in a statement that the plan is to use 400 tonnes of aggregate to divert water from entering the reservoir and into other surrounding watercourses designed for this purpose.

Officials will use water pumps to remove water from the reservoir to relieve pressure on the dam wall.

When the water reduced to a safe level, they will begin work on the dam wall itself.

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann added: "Ten specialist high-volume pumping fire appliances along with specially-trained fire and rescue flood advisors have been brought into the area from around the UK, utilising fire service national co-ordination arrangements.


Video posted on a Facebook page dedicated to Whaley Bridge area shows rescuers bringing two eight-inch pumps in action.

The caption also read: "Four six-inch pumps being brought in place."

Thousands of residents have already been told to leave their homes with pets, essentials and all medication they may need for "a number of days".

Tonight, around 200 police officers descended on the tiny hamlet to enforce the compulsory evacuation, reportedly threatening those who refuse to leave with arrest.

"We understand that residents will be concerned about leaving their homes, however, our priority is to ensure people are kept safe and well and are not taking unnecessary risks," a police spokesman said.

A nearby school is being used as a refuge point and all roads to and from the town - which is now eerily quiet - have been closed.

Dragging a suitcase of possessions up the deserted high street, local David Holt said: “Police are knocking on doors, evacuating everyone within risk of that dam wall breaking.

“If it’s going to go, it’s going to go straight through the village.

“We’ve taken an elderly neighbour to a friend’s house and are heading to the school now.”

Engineers fear it could take "four or five days" to pump the amount of water they need out of the dam - but as the situation becomes 'critical' it is now a race against time.




There is a danger to life warning in place (Image: REUTERS)


Resident, Grace Cole, 28, said if the wall collapses it "will probably wipe half the village off the map.”

She added: "I’ve lived here 20 years and I’ve never known anything like this."

In a tweet, police said: "Whaley Bridge is being evacuated due to the ongoing situation at Toddbrook Reservoir.

"Residents who have been at work, or away from the area, are strongly advised to stay away following advice from the Environment Agency who have indicated that the incident currently poses a significant threat to life.

"We understand that there will be some concern around not being able to return home, however, our priority is to ensure people are kept safe and well and are not taking unnecessary risks.

"This is not a decision that has been taken lightly and we appreciate that there is significant impact on this community, however, this is an unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation."

The warning continued: "If people do not have somewhere to go then they will be accommodated, however, there is limited capacity to do so. If you are unable to leave your own home and require assistance please contact 101 and ask for the police."




The whole town has been evacuated (Image: David Brocklehurst / SWNS)



Resident Ash Cox said police officers told him evacuation was "mandatory" and that people could be arrested if they chose not to leave.

"We were told by the police officer leaving was mandatory... and if we don't leave, he would have to make arrests," he said.

"That would be very sad to do so we decided to follow procedure and leave even though we are well above the danger zone in our eyes."

Sara Williams, 30, who lives in a flat above a shop in the town said the situation is "frightening".

"They said there’s a risk the water could come down so we’ve got to go," she added.

“Terrifying really. Fingers crossed it won’t and everything will be okay but it’s not good."

Former Conservative MP Edwina Currie, who lives in Whaley Bridge, also told the BBC: “Evacuation is absolutely necessary. I don’t think they’ve got any choice. People are being advised not to take pictures. We are really very, very worried.

“People are being advised - wisely - not to take any risk there.

“We’ve had people wandering around trying to take pictures. Please don’t. It’s not really very safe at the moment.”





Police and other authorities are monitoring the situation (Image: Frag Last/Twitter)



The Environment Agency issued the warning over fears water from the reservoir could cause the River Goyt to rise rapidy.

The pretty market town of Whaley Bridge has a population of around 6,455.

Two miles up the road, Chapel-en-le-Frith High School is being hastily converted into a reception centre for residents from Whaley Bridge, and a command centre for the police operation as the mass evacuation gets underway.

Squads of police officers arrived with dozens of Land Rovers and vans as officers checked equipment in the boots of their vehicles.

Locals were seen with suitcases heading for a sports centre hall where they will spend the night if friends or family cannot house them.

Couple Paul Nash and Janet Williams arrived at the centre after being told to evacuate at around 1pm.

Mr Nash said: "The River Goyt is actually behind us, normally it's 20ft down from our back garden but last night it raised up to nearly 3ft from coming over.




Team of engineers building sandbag defences on the top of the damaged dam of Toddbrook reservoir (Image: Andy Stenning / Daily Mirror)



"We went to work as normal, then we found out we needed to evacuate so we've been back home, got the cat, got what we needed to and that's as far as we know at the moment.

"Bit surprised to be honest, never thought it would happen. Not sure whether this dam is going to go or not, it's a bit concerning.

"At the moment there's no updates really, no-one knows anything, so we are in the dark really, we've not been told we can go back."

He continued: "If the whole dam goes, it's going to cause absolute chaos. Probably the village will go, because it goes straight through. The River Goyt goes straight through the village centre.

"They've not said when we can go back, we have got to stay away.

"Everything is in the house we've worked for, worked hard for, some things can't ever be replaced.

"We've come down here to check in because they've told us if we check in, there's no chance of them coming to knock the door down to check we are not still there."




Damage is pictured to the huge structure (Image: Frag Last/Twitter)


Anna Aspinall, 36, said she and others wanted to help by placing sand bags in the area around the dam but were sent away after structural engineers advised "that the wall is at high risk of failing".

She said: "We have had significant rainfall over the past few days resulting in the overflow of the reservoir, which is very rarely breached, being completely flooded over.

"The result is that the overflow this morning has undermining damage and there is a big risk of the village being flooded out.

"We are praying (the dam wall) holds whilst the Canal and River Trust try to drain the water from the reservoir. I live at the top of a hill but am very involved in community life so want to help where I can."

Another person tweeted: "There are some very real concerns that the reservoir that sits over our small Peak District town of Whaley Bridge is going to collapse. If it does, it’ll cause chaos. It’s like something out of a movie! Keep safe neighbours!!! Xx".




A resident of the village of Whaley Bridge is advised to evacuate his home (Image: PA)


A further warning for rain has been issued by the Met Office.

The Met Office said "there is a small chance of fast flowing or deep floodwater causing danger to life".

Flooding will be worst in large parts of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and Derbyshire.

Dr Mohammed Heidarzadeh, assistant professor and head of coastal engineering and resilience LAB, said: "Due to heavy rainfall in Whaley Bridge area, the spillway is now broken and a big chunk of its concrete structure is damaged.

"There is a possibility that the spillway could then become fully broken in a few hours.

"If the spillway is fully gone, the embankment dam will be washed away very rapidly, which could cause a massive flood."

The Environment Agency said its teams were out in Cheshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester, where intense rainfall had caused flooding and disruption today.

Stockport councillor Steve Gribbon, who is also a watch manager with the Greater Manchester Fire Service, said areas such as Stockport, Bramall and Cheadle Hulme had also been hit.

After going past the swollen River Goyt, he said: "I was amazed by how much has come down. It was about two metres higher than it normally is.

"The river is not normally that wide and it was about twice the width."





The area has been hit by flash flooding (Image: Chris Wilman/Twitter)


Author Hanna Sillitoe lives in Buxworth, downstream from Whaley Bridge, in a hamlet called Waterside. She has not been evacuated yet.

She said: "The river had massively come up yesterday, almost to the house. But it had receded again this morning, so we thought the rains had calmed and everything had got better.

"But then there were fish in the garden and a lot of damage - the fences were down, trees were down, they'd been dragged down by the river.

"The river is still flowing at a fast pace but nowhere near what it was like yesterday. The worry is if that dam goes it feeds the river, which is not built to take that level of water.




All roads have been closed (Image: PA)



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