Whaley Bridge dam emergency – live: Reservoir wall at 'high risk' of collapse as entire town near Manchester evacuated amid major flood fears

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Whaley Bridge dam emergency – live: Reservoir wall at ‘high risk’ of collapse as entire town near Manchester evacuated amid major flood fears | The Independent

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LiveUpdated Thursday 1 August 2019 16:40

Emergency services are working to secure a dam amid fears it could collapse after damage caused by extreme weather.

An evacuation has been launched and members of the public are being warned to stay out of the area around Toddbrook Reservoir in Derbyshire, near Manchester after officials discovered the damage.

Authorities have told members of the public to “stay away” from the area in case residents and businesses need to be evacuated.

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Sandbags are being delivered to reinforce the damaged dam:


Whaley Bridge residents say the River Goyt is higher today than they’ve ever seen it, reports The Independent‘s North of England correspondent Colin Drury, who has been speaking to some of those evacuated.

Paul Nash, whose garden backs on to the waterway, said: “It’s normally 20ft below the back wall but last night it was 3ft. It’s terrifying. Everything we own is in the house.”

Paul Nash and Janet Williams have been evacuated from their home (picture: Colin Drury)

The forecast for Whaley Bridge from the Met Office is looking even more foreboding than it did earlier. It’s now projecting storms in the next couple of hours:



Here’s that wall from the other side:


Here’s a resident being told to leave his house earlier:


Emergency services making their way through the centre of the village


As a helicopter hovered above the village, police officers 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 of possessions 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.”



These aerial pictures show the full extent of the damage to the wall – and just how close that reservoir is:


Picture from a drone from Derbyshire Police:


Derbyshire Police tweeted: “Warnings to stay away from the Whaley Bridge area are continuing. Residents who have been at work, or away from the area, are strongly advised to stay away following advice from the EnvAgency who have indicated that the incident currently poses a significant threat to life.

“Anyone outside the cordon is asked to go to Chapel High School, Long Lane, ChapelEnLeFrith, High Peak, SK23 0TQ, where further direction will be given. Please make arrangements to stay with friends/family, if you can’t you will be accommodated but there is limited capacity.

“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 Manchester Evening News’s Chris Slater has spoken with one of the residents being evacuated this afternoon:



Some more pictures from that deserted town centre:


Some more video of the dam wall here:


The town is deserted as police go door-to-door asking people to leave their homes.


More rain is still to fall around Whaley Bridge tonight, according to the Met Office:



Police have warned that it’s not clear how long the evacuation will last, and that people should get ready to be away from their homes for some time:


Local residents have been told that the bridge is at “high risk” of collapsing.

Anna Aspinall, 36, from Whaley Bridge, has told PA 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,” she added.


The Independent‘s northern correspondent, Colin Drury, is on his way down to the scene.


Here’s Whaley Bridge, in the context of the surrounding area:


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The independent

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