RAF drafts in a Chinook to save crumbling Toddbrook Reservoir dam

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter was today sent in to a Peak District market town to stop a reservoir collapsing after it was ‘badly’ damaged during heavy rain and police told up to 6,500 inhabitants to flee. 

Thousands of residents from Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire spent the night away from their homes due to what police described as ‘an unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation’ caused by five days of downpours.

Emergency service workers were scrambling to save the dam which could be set to burst any minute, with teams laying sandbags in order to prevent the water breaking through and wiping out the picturesque town.  

Officers spent hours going door-to-door around homes in the Derbyshire village, as residents fled the area in case the 1.3million tonnes of water contained in the huge Georgian-era Toddbrook Reservoir starts to escape.

Families were turning up in tears at the evacuation point of a school three miles away in Chapel-en-le-Frith as police told them there was a 50/50 chance the dam will be breached and their homes could be ruined.  

The Environment Agency issued a severe ‘danger to life’ flood warning after 82.8mm (3in) of rain fell on the hills above Whaley Bridge in 48 hours up to yesterday afternoon, the equivalent of a month’s worth of rain. 

The reservoir, which contains around 1.3 million tonnes of water, has seen ‘extensive’ damage during the flooding including a huge hole in the dam wall. The helicopter was sent from RAF Odiham in Hampshire to assist. 

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter has been sent in to Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire today to help at Toddbrook Reservoir

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter has been sent in to Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire today to help at Toddbrook Reservoir

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter has been sent in to Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire today to help at Toddbrook Reservoir

The RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

The RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

The RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge today

The scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire yesterday where flooding has burst the dam

The scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire yesterday where flooding has burst the dam

The scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire yesterday where flooding has burst the dam

Damage caused to Toddbrook Reservoir, pictured yesterday, which has led to the town of Whaley Bridge being evacuated

Damage caused to Toddbrook Reservoir, pictured yesterday, which has led to the town of Whaley Bridge being evacuated

Damage caused to Toddbrook Reservoir, pictured yesterday, which has led to the town of Whaley Bridge being evacuated

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Where Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it, and the flow of the water

Where Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it, and the flow of the water

Where Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it, and the flow of the water 

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘It will drop one-ton bags of aggregate – a mixture of sand, gravel and stone – into Todd Brook. This is intended to stem the flow of water into the reservoir.’

Videos shared by Shirebrook Fire Station showed the Chinook laden with the aggregate as it flew above the area and hovered above the the dam wall. Police said 400 tonnes of aggregate would be brought by the RAF.

Toodbrook Reservoir is home to ducks and heron and dates back to 1831 

  • The reservoir, opened in 1831, feeds the Peak Forest Canal.
  • Toddbrook reservoir has a variety of trails, making it popular with walkers, and it is also used by its own sailing club.
  • It is a protected area – known as a Site of Special Scientific Interest – as it is home to herons, ducks and rare mosses.
  • The reservoir contains 300 million gallons of water which is equivalent to 454 Olympic swimming pools.
  • When the dam underwent a controlled emptying during repair work completed in 2011, a ‘fish rescue’ meant 11,000 lb of fish were evacuated, to be replaced when it was refilled.
  • The Whaley Bridge area has 26 grade II listed buildings ‘of special interest’ and 2 grade II* buildings, which are particularly important buildings of ‘more than special interest’.
  • Properties in Whaley Bridge sell for an average of £276,324 and during the last year, prices increased by 14 per cent on the previous year.

Julie Sharman, chief operating officer of the Canal and River Trust which runs the reservoir, said today efforts were ongoing to protect the structure and reduce the amount of water being held back by the dam.

‘The operation loading the front face of the dam using the Chinook helicopter is in process and is going to go on for most of the day here,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

‘Additional pumping is going in and the good news is that the inflow to the reservoir has reduced considerably. We’ve lowered the level of the water in the reservoir by 200mm (0.65in). We are obviously aiming to get that down considerably more.

‘The primary task at the moment is to load the front face of the dam to secure the structure, in parallel with lowering the water.’

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann, chair of the Local Resilience Forum, 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.’

Firefighters deployed from across the country used at least ten high volume pumps to reduce water to a safe level before work will begin to repair the dam wall.

Many people were told to leave their homes and directed to an evacuation point at a school in Chapel-en-le-Frith. Police added that a timescale for people to be able to return to their homes is ‘currently unknown’.

Dr Mohammed Heidarzadeh, a professor from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Brunel University London, said the damage to the reservoir spillway put the entire dam structure at risk. 

A roadblock on the outskirts of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire is pictured this morning after the area was evacuated by police

A roadblock on the outskirts of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire is pictured this morning after the area was evacuated by police

A roadblock on the outskirts of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire is pictured this morning after the area was evacuated by police

Emergency services walked across a bridge and put down sandbags in front on the direction of the flowing water yesterday

Emergency services walked across a bridge and put down sandbags in front on the direction of the flowing water yesterday

Emergency services walked across a bridge and put down sandbags in front on the direction of the flowing water yesterday

Police told the town's 6,500 residents to gather at a local school yesterday following the damage to the dam in Derbyshire

Police told the town's 6,500 residents to gather at a local school yesterday following the damage to the dam in Derbyshire

Police told the town’s 6,500 residents to gather at a local school yesterday following the damage to the dam in Derbyshire

People gathered to watch the flood waters nesar the dam yesterday despite police having urged residents to evacuate

People gathered to watch the flood waters nesar the dam yesterday despite police having urged residents to evacuate

People gathered to watch the flood waters nesar the dam yesterday despite police having urged residents to evacuate 

A host of emergency services were seen last night as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

A host of emergency services were seen last night as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

A host of emergency services were seen last night as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

An aerial view shows which areas would be hit if the dam was to burst, as police advise residents to gather their things

An aerial view shows which areas would be hit if the dam was to burst, as police advise residents to gather their things

An aerial view shows which areas would be hit if the dam was to burst, as police advise residents to gather their things 

People look at the reservoir yesterday as deluged communities across the North of England face yet more flooding

People look at the reservoir yesterday as deluged communities across the North of England face yet more flooding

People look at the reservoir yesterday as deluged communities across the North of England face yet more flooding 

He said: ‘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.’

Dam burst killed 240 in England’s worst man-made disaster 

The biggest man-made disaster in English history occurred when a Sheffield dam failed on March 11, 1864, killing 240 people.

The newly built Dale Dyke Dam – designed to supply the city’s burgeoning steel industry – burst its 100ft (30m) high banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time.

The Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield burst its banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time in 1864

The Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield burst its banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time in 1864

The Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield burst its banks in the middle of the night while it was being filled for the first time in 1864

More than 700million gallons (3,200 litres) of water and tons of rubble cascaded into Loxley Valley and continued south into Sheffield town centre, destroying more than 600 houses. 

It was rebuilt in 1875, but its failure led to reforms in engineering practices and mandatory standards in large-scale construction. 

The most recent fatal dam failure was in 1925 when 16 people were killed in Dolgarrog, north Wales.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal and River Trust, which runs the reservoir, warned it could be ‘at least 24 hours’ until they can rule out the dam collapsing.

‘We clearly don’t know the nature of the failure, we’ve not had the opportunity to examine it, but we’re operating in a very precautionary way with the other agencies,’ he told BBC Newsnight.

‘Our first priority is to draw down the water and it’s very important that we do keep everyone out of the area until that is done. It will be at least 24 hours, it could be longer, it really depends on how much progress we can make overnight and into tomorrow morning.’ 

He added that the last annual inspection of the structure by a senior engineer was last November.

The Environment Agency issued a ‘danger to life’ warning covering the River Goyt yesterday, as the river could ‘rise rapidly’ due to water rushing in from the reservoir.

A small number of properties in the areas of Furness Vale and New Mills, outside Whaley Bridge but inside the flood risk area, were also evacuated on Thursday evening.

A local resident said that another section of the spillway – designed to release water – further collapsed yesterday evening.

Carolyn Whittle, who lives in Meadowfield, on the hillside in Whaley Bridge, said: ‘Another section of the concrete on the dam face has now collapsed.’

The 45-year-old, who works for GM Moving, said: ‘I’ve lived in Whaley (Bridge) for the best part of 45 years, and I’ve never seen water flood over the dam like that, ever, nor thought that we could possibly be at risk in this way.’ 

Evacuees were told to gather at a school three miles away in Chapel-en-le-Frith or head further afield to stay with family or friends following fears over the reservoir, which was built in 1831 and drains a 43-acre catchment area. 

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it yesterday

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it yesterday

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it yesterday

The close proximity of homes to the Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire can be seen in this photograph taken yesterday

The close proximity of homes to the Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire can be seen in this photograph taken yesterday

The close proximity of homes to the Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire can be seen in this photograph taken yesterday

As the evening went on, emergency services continued to battle to repair the damage done and were seen in a rescue boat

As the evening went on, emergency services continued to battle to repair the damage done and were seen in a rescue boat

As the evening went on, emergency services continued to battle to repair the damage done and were seen in a rescue boat

The letter given to residents in the area explaining that they are at risk from the nearby reservoir yesterday

The letter given to residents in the area explaining that they are at risk from the nearby reservoir yesterday

The letter given to residents in the area explaining that they are at risk from the nearby reservoir yesterday

Yesterday a team of men could be seen observing the damage in the area after it was damaged after rainfall in Derbyshire

Yesterday a team of men could be seen observing the damage in the area after it was damaged after rainfall in Derbyshire

Yesterday a team of men could be seen observing the damage in the area after it was damaged after rainfall in Derbyshire

Police went door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school yesterday

Police went door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school yesterday

Police went door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school yesterday

Police urged residents to ensure they took any pets and medication ‘for a number of days’, and asked people to ‘make alternative arrangements to stay with friends and family’.

The force said the evacuation was ‘not a decision that has been taken lightly’, adding: ‘We appreciate that there is significant impact on this community, however, this is an unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation.’ 

Respite from the rain with ‘dry and warm weather’ for most of Britain today

The Met Office is predicting ‘dry and warm weather’ for most parts of the country today – although some showers may develop in the north and east.

Over the weekend, conditions are set to be warm with scattered showers, but these could become heavy again in the north and west. More thundery showers are predicted in Northern England early next week.

Here is the forecast for the next few days: 

Today: Mostly dry and cloudy in the morning, although there will be sunny spells for Northern Ireland and south-west England. A generally dry picture through the course of the day for many, but some showers are still expected to develop, these most numerous during the afternoon. Generally gentle winds.

Tonight: It will be mostly dry with sunny spells during the evening, although a few showers will remain for a time across central areas. After midnight it will be dry with clear skies for many, although patches of mist and fog are likely to develop for many central, northern and eastern areas. Gentle winds.

This weekend: Tomorrow will be dry with sunny spells for many northern and eastern areas. Southern and western parts will start bright but become mostly cloudy with showers later. On Sunday, bands of showers will transfer eastwards across the country, some heavy, especially in the north. Light southerly winds.

Just before midnight last night Derbyshire Police said they had put in place an action plan, which included using water pumps to remove water from the reservoir to relieve pressure on the dam wall. 

Residents in the area have said they ‘have never seen anything like it’, despite living in the area all of their lives, one local also added that it was the worst flood in the village in living memory. 

The rest of the action plan was for 400 tonnes of aggregate to divert water from entering the reservoir and into other surrounding watercourses designed for this purpose. 

Police said once those measures reduce the water to a level that is safe – work will then begin on the dam wall itself. 

Last night Sarah Edgar, resident of Whaley Bridge since October 18, left with her husband, David and 10 year old son just before residents were evacuated. 

The family live around a quarter of a mile from the dam. She said: ‘We have been keeping an eye on it since yesterday. It was torrential rain. I checked Facebook and everyone was saying how bad it was. 

‘Our garden and the houses opposite have a brook separating them and that became a raging river, it’s washed thins away in the neighbours garden. It used to be ten foot down from garden level and yesterday it was overflowing.

‘This morning we got up and when we heard about the damage to the dam we knew we were going to be evacuated so we left earlier because my son would be panicking. It was scary, neighbours who’ve lived there for 15 years said they’d never seen anything like it. 

‘We moved from Buxworth in October last year, we wish we’d stayed there. I’ve never known it to flow over like that. The police told us to take medication, animals and prepare for a few days away. My husband is a landscape gardener so he hasn’t been able to work’. 

This is while one owner of a nearby local pub told which has also been evacuated told of how she called her partner. 

One emergency services worker was seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage yesterday

One emergency services worker was seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage yesterday

One emergency services worker was seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage yesterday

Footage taken from a helicopter yesterday showed the water (right) flowing though the village as boats can be seen piled up

Footage taken from a helicopter yesterday showed the water (right) flowing though the village as boats can be seen piled up

Footage taken from a helicopter yesterday showed the water (right) flowing though the village as boats can be seen piled up

Workers in the area had to use a JCB yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir into the Todd Brook

Workers in the area had to use a JCB yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir into the Todd Brook

Workers in the area had to use a JCB yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir into the Todd Brook

A resident of the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire was advised to evacuate his home yesterday afternoon

A resident of the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire was advised to evacuate his home yesterday afternoon

A resident of the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire was advised to evacuate his home yesterday afternoon

Workers including the fire service use a JCB digger yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir

Workers including the fire service use a JCB digger yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir

Workers including the fire service use a JCB digger yesterday to try to move water at the edge of Toddbrook Reservoir

Evacuees leave Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir threatens to break in the severe weather

Evacuees leave Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir threatens to break in the severe weather

Evacuees leave Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir threatens to break in the severe weather

Speaking to the BBC Jennifer, owner of the Goyt Inn said: ‘Bring the dog. We have to get out. The dam is a mess. It really looks very unsafe and there’s a lot of water in that reservoir.’ 

What is the history of the Toddbrook Reservoir? 

Emergency services are evacuating people from their homes in Derbyshire over fears a reservoir could collapse following heavy rainfall in the area.

Toddbrook Reservoir is on the north-west edge of the Peak District National Park, sitting above the small town of Whaley Bridge.

It was built in 1831, according to some experts, while the Environment Agency record it as being built between 1840-41.

The structure supplies water to the Peak Forest Canal, a waterway in northern England running between the town and Ashton under Lyne.

Owned by the Canal & River Trust, the reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to local wildlife.

The spillway on the embankment dam, which releases water, became damaged following extensive rainfall on Thursday and partially collapsed.

Reservoir safety is maintained by inspections under an act created in 1930 and strengthened in 1975, according to experts, but flooding and other weather events have led to concerns about safety of older structures.

Professor Roderick Smith, from Imperial College London, said: ‘Extreme weather events mean that there is increasing unease about the safety of older dams: particularly the need to release excess water safely and easily.’

The reservoir was damaged due to flooding in 1964, according to the Environment Agency, but another specialist said it was ‘unlikely’ it had been in an unsafe condition before the heavy rainfall on Thursday.

Professor Tim Broyd, Professor of Built Environment Foresight at University College London, said: ‘Dams are highly regulated structures, which includes regular structural inspections by highly qualified engineers.

‘It is unlikely therefore that the dam was in a previously unsafe condition. What may have been the cause, however, is that the flow rate into the reservoir was exceptionally high, as a result of extreme local rainflows.’

Officers said people with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but ‘there is limited capacity to do so’. They added: ‘If you are unable to leave your own home and require assistance please contact 101 and ask for the police.’

Yesterday evening firefighters pumped tonnes of water from Toddbrook Reservoir following significant rainfall resulting in it overflowing, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) said with a danger to life warning being issued.

It said: ‘At least ten High Volume Pumps and a number of firefighters from across the country have already been deployed to assist as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s National Resilience response. 

‘In addition, a number of specialised members of staff including tactical advisers are at the scene. More assets could be deployed as the situation unfolds.

‘Levels in Derbyshire’s River Goyt could rise rapidly due to water coming from the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir, which contains 1.3 million tonnes of water and the dam holding it back contains 300 million gallons of water. 

‘There are concerns the reservoir walls could collapse, flooding nearby homes. A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir is already showing extensive damage.’

Network Rail confirmed Northern trains between Hazel Grove and Buxton stopped in both directions and will only run again when emergency services confirm it is safe for them to do so.

Rail passengers on the Liverpool Lime Street / Nottingham / Norwich line had their journeys disrupted as a result of the dam threatening to collapse.

East Midlands Trains said: ‘This rail closure of the Hope Valley follows a request by police in relation to the damaged dam at Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge.

‘We are working closely with other agencies to enable the railway to be re-opened as soon as it is safe to do so.’

Lee Rawlinson, area director at the Environment Agency, said: ‘We don’t issue severe flood warnings lightly but you can imagine the volume of water that sits behind that reservoir. If there was to be a catastrophic failure then that would have a huge significant effect on those living downstream.’

Residents in the area had been given an ‘Appendix B – Evacuation Card’ which explained the major incident in the area. It read: ‘There is a concern that you and your property are at risk from Toddbrook Reservoir, EVACUATE YOUR PROPERTY NOW.’

It then goes on to give a list of instruction of what people in the area need to do, however the paper was dated April 2018.  

Workers use a JCB digger in their efforts to protect Whaley Bridge which was evacuated yesterday afternoon

Workers use a JCB digger in their efforts to protect Whaley Bridge which was evacuated yesterday afternoon

Workers use a JCB digger in their efforts to protect Whaley Bridge which was evacuated yesterday afternoon

Emergency services in the village of Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged

Emergency services in the village of Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged

Emergency services in the village of Whaley Bridge yesterday after the nearby Toddbrook Reservoir was damaged

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge yesterday as the area was evacuated by police

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge yesterday as the area was evacuated by police

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir near Whaley Bridge yesterday as the area was evacuated by police

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a 'large number ' of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a 'large number ' of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a ‘large number ‘ of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir yesterday near Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Residents have now become overwhelmed with the situation, with some worried that they won’t be able to get out.

More damage to reservoir could see ‘massive flood’ 

Further damage to a dam which has seen thousands evacuated from their homes over fears it may collapse could lead to ‘massive flooding’, according to an expert.

A wall of a dam at the Toddbrook Reservoir became damaged following flash floods which caused thousands to be evacuated in nearby Whaley Bridge.

An expert from Brunel University in London said the damaged spillway of the dam – designed to release water – could become ‘fully broken’ within hours.

This could lead to ‘massive flooding’ following the heavy rainfall.

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.’

He added that a similar situation occurred at the Orovill dam in California in February 2017.

However, as long as the core of the reservoir is not damaged, the wall ‘should be okay’, according to another specialist.

‘Within the last few years new valves have been placed in the dam to expedite rapid drawdown in emergencies: presumably, this is happening now,’ said Professor Roderick Smith, from Imperial College London.

The former chief scientific adviser for the Department for Transport said the reservoir previously had ‘issues’ with an inadequate valve system which has seen been replaced.

Severe flooding in South Yorkshire in 2007 sparked the evacuation of roughly 700 people around Ulley Reservoir, near Rotherham, over fears its walls could burst due to unprecedented rain and apparent ‘areas of weakness’.

 

Retired reporter Steve Cliffe, 66, said neighbours in the hamlet of Fernilee were flooded and cut off. ‘The problem is we just can’t get out,’ he said. Fernilee is about 1.5 miles outside Whaley Bridge, up the hill.  

‘What seems to have happened is that during the real cloud bust, water has come down the main road up above us, and has been siphoned down this lane. It’s never had that quantity come down it before. 

‘It has ripped up the road surface and bedrock underneath, and now there’s rocks and debris deposited all over the place.’ 

But Andrew Mclackland, 46, who has lived in Whaley Bridge for nine years, was among those refusing to leave. He told the Manchester Evening News: ‘Well, I think it’s health and safety gone mad. It’s a big fuss about nothing.’

Anna Aspinall, 36, from Whaley Bridge, said she and others had been called to help place sandbags in the area around the dam, but were sent away after structural engineers advised ‘that the wall is at high risk of failing’.

‘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,’ she said.

‘The result is that the overflow this morning has undermining damage and there is a big risk of the village being flooded out. Residents are currently being evacuated along with businesses.

‘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.’ 

Chapel-en-le-Frith High School was being hastily converted into a reception centre for hundreds of residents from Whaley Bridge and a command centre for the police operation as the mass evacuation got under way.

Squads of police officers arrived, with dozens of police Land Rovers and vans arriving and leaving the car park and officers checking equipment in the boots of their vehicles, as locals began to appear with suitcases heading for a sports centre hall where they will spend the night if friends or family cannot house them.

Paul Nash and Janet Williams, a couple from Whaley Bridge, had just arrived at the centre after being told to evacuate at around 1pm yesterday. 

The Toddbrook Reservoir dam, above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, was damaged following heavy rains in the area yesterday

The Toddbrook Reservoir dam, above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, was damaged following heavy rains in the area yesterday

The Toddbrook Reservoir dam, above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, was damaged following heavy rains in the area yesterday

Authorities fear the Toddbrook Reservoir (pictured yesterday) containing 1.3million tonnes of water could start to escape

Authorities fear the Toddbrook Reservoir (pictured yesterday) containing 1.3million tonnes of water could start to escape

Authorities fear the Toddbrook Reservoir (pictured yesterday) containing 1.3million tonnes of water could start to escape

Officers said people being evacuated with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but 'there is limited capacity to do so'

Officers said people being evacuated with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but 'there is limited capacity to do so'

Officers said people being evacuated with nowhere to go will be accommodated, but ‘there is limited capacity to do so’

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. 

What have Derbyshire Police told residents?

Whaley Bridge is being evacuated due to the ongoing situation at Toddbrook Reservoir.

If you are being asked to leave your home then please attend Chapel High School, Long Lane, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, SK23 0TQ, where further direction will be given.

Police officers and staff will be at the school to provide further direction, though at this time we are not sure how long the evacuation will take.

Residents are asked to make alternative arrangements to stay with friends and family, ensure that any pets are taken with them and that all medication that may be needed for a number of days is taken with them.

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.

‘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.

‘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.

‘Obviously the experts are telling us it might go, there’s still a chance it might not. No-one knows when we can go back.

‘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.’

Derbyshire Police yesterday said it was unclear how long the evacuation of Whaley Bridge would last. The force tweeted: ‘Please make alternate arrangements to stay with friends/family, ensure that pets and medication that may be needed for a number of days are taken.  

Flooding hit the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire as it was evacuated yesterday due to the threat of the reservoir

Flooding hit the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire as it was evacuated yesterday due to the threat of the reservoir

Flooding hit the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire as it was evacuated yesterday due to the threat of the reservoir

Police urged residents from the picturesque market town to ensure they took any pets and medication 'for a number of days'

Police urged residents from the picturesque market town to ensure they took any pets and medication 'for a number of days'

Police urged residents from the picturesque market town to ensure they took any pets and medication ‘for a number of days’

A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire was damaged yesterday and images show a huge hole in the dam wall

A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire was damaged yesterday and images show a huge hole in the dam wall

A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire was damaged yesterday and images show a huge hole in the dam wall

‘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.’

Clean-up starts after flash floods hit Cheshire town

The waters have receded but a big clean-up is under way in Poynton, Cheshire, after flash floods deluged houses.

Katie Ward was driving home at around 4pm on Wednesday, about to join her husband and three children already on holiday in Devon that night.

But when she arrived her 350-year-old cottage beside a bridge over Poynton Brook was starting to flood.

Martin Ward inspects flood damage in his house today after it was flooded in Poynton, Cheshire, following heavy rainfall

Martin Ward inspects flood damage in his house today after it was flooded in Poynton, Cheshire, following heavy rainfall

Martin Ward inspects flood damage in his house today after it was flooded in Poynton, Cheshire, following heavy rainfall

Mrs Ward said: ‘My heart sank. I couldn’t believe the level of the stream, it was a torrent, a river. Just feeling incredibly out of control.

‘Your home is your secure place. The water level was rising and creeping closer and closer to the front door. I just felt completely out of control. It seemed to go from two inches to waist height within 10 minutes. By 5pm we were completely flooded.’

Flood water mixed with raw sewage from the drains devastated her house, rising up to the third step of her stairs.

Mrs Ward was able to salvage precious photographs but her downstairs is ruined, covered in a thick layer of smelly brown sludge, along with two family cars parked outside which have been written off.

The force of the water caused the wall and part of the bridge to collapse outside her house on Dickens Lane in Poynton.

It proved a blessing as even more water backing up onto the road was able to flow into the stream, taking it away from the cottage and other nearby houses.

But for Mrs Ward and her family the damage had already been done. She added: ‘I finished work last night and it was, ‘Yeah, summer!’ Now we are waiting for the loss adjusters to come.’

Husband Martin Ward added: ‘We are just a displaced family now.’ 

Their neighbour Simon Howcroft was lucky not to be flooded out – but lost his garden as the wall collapsed onto his lawn and huge sinkholes appeared.

His stepdaughter Sian Fishwick was at home alone at the time, and said: ‘In our shed I was thigh deep in water. The wheelie bins were floating.

‘Our neighbours’ porch had already had an inch or two of water in, the other neighbour was thigh deep in water and that’s when the bridge went and the wall collapsed into our garden and the water receded quite quickly from there but it was a torrent of water, you couldn’t walk in it safely.

‘It saved the houses and potentially a lot of damage.

‘I was terrified, I was ringing my mum and stepdad saying you need to come home but trains were… you couldn’t get home.

‘It was really scary, I thought the house was going to be flooded.’

Utility engineers and the local council are now on scene to assess the damage. It is not known when the bridge will be repaired and reopened.

The Environment Agency yesterday issued a severe flood warning, suggesting a danger to life, covering the River Goyt at Whaley Bridge. It states that the river could ‘rise rapidly’ due to water rushing in from the reservoir.  

As a helicopter hovered above the village, police were going door to door in Whaley Bridge to get everyone out. Going the other way were teams of council workers and mountain rescue vehicles heading into the village.

Dragging a suitcase up the deserted high street, local David Holt said: ‘Police are knocking on, evacuating everyone within risk of that dam wall breaking. If it’s going to go, it’s going to go straight through the village. 

‘Police are asking you to gather some belongings, leave your house in a secure condition and go to a local school. We’ve taken an elderly neighbour to a friend’s house and are heading to the school now.’

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. So, I am moving all the important stuff upstairs.’

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had a ‘large number’ of vehicles at Toddbrook Reservoir as efforts continued to prevent the dam from bursting.

Matt Forrest, lives just six feet uphill from the reservoir and has watched the chaos unfold in his home town. 

The designer said: ‘We live about six feet up from the reservoir so we have managed to dodge being evacuated but only just. 

‘The rest of the entire town has had to leave. I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s the worst flooding in living memory in the village.’

Trauma nurse Philomena Smith, 53, lives on a road above the reservoir. She said: ‘Many Whaley Bridge residents who were on the bridge yesterday looking over the dam said they have lived here all their lives and never seen anything like this.

‘If the dam overflows it will join the River Goyt and be a disaster. Even last night many houses had started to place sandbags up against their doors.

‘Today the bridge is now closed and the concrete has broken away – the whole village has been evacuated and Whaley Bridge is completely closed off due to the high risk of the dam collapsing. My husband is working in Buxton but may not be able to get home tonight.’

A nearby tourist attraction to Whaley Bridge is the Ladybower Reservoir and the rarely seen abandoned village of Derwent which was flooded in the 1940s to make way for the site. 

Severe flooding in South Yorkshire in 2007 sparked the evacuation of roughly 700 people around Ulley Reservoir, near Rotherham, over fears its walls could burst due to unprecedented rain and apparent ‘areas of weakness’. 

Forecaster Luke Miall said showers in the area had eased overnight, though there was a possibility of rain later in the day.

He added: ‘There is still a risk of showers breaking out in the afternoon, but it’s a predominantly dry picture for Friday.’ Sporadic rain was also likely in north west Scotland and south west England.    

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