Situation remains 'critical' at reservoir as new safety message is issued
A small minority of residents who returned to their homes in Whaley Bridge are being urged to let police know they are safe after failing to get back in touch.
More than 1,500 residents were evacuated on Thursday with more evacuated from their homes yesterday amid fears the Toddbrook Reservoir dam wall could collapse, flooding the town.
Residents were allowed to return for a limited spell on Friday and Saturday to collect any medicines, pets or vital supplies.
But that 'window' was closed earlier today with immediate effect amid fears rain forecast for today could pose new dangers to the damaged dam wall.
Police have praised the vast majority of residents for returning quickly and responsibly, but say a tiny minority failed to return to the road block at which they entered.
Derbyshire Constabulary Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann, said: “The current situation at the reservoir is still critical and the threat to life remains very high in Whaley Bridge and the surrounding Goyt Valley area.
“I took the decision this morning to stop allowing residents and businesses back into Whaley Bridge. This decision was not taken lightly. The risk to life during those trips was extraordinarily high; however, I understood the reasons that residents and businesses required that opportunity.
“The vast majority of those who have been allowed back in to Whaley Bridge have been fantastic, however, there have been a very small minority of people who have returned to their homes and have not presented back at the road block at which they entered.
“These people are putting the lives of officers at risk as further checks have to now be completed to ensure those residents are out of the area safely.
“The officers carrying out these checks are mothers, fathers, partners and friends.
“I want my officers to be able to return to their families at the end of their shifts – not be put in harm’s way.
“With that being said the spirit shown by the community has been absolutely fantastic. Volunteers are helping at the scene and for that I am enormously grateful. At this time we do not require further assistance but should we, then that request will be made.
“Once again I would like to thank all staff who are working long, hard hours at the scene, the community in Whaley Bridge that has shown such resilience and spirit in this unprecedented situation and the wider public for their continued support in our work.”
A helpline number for evacuated residents is available, this is 01629 533190. This number is open between 9am and 10pm.
There is also an e-mail address for anyone wishing to donate items or services, this is [email protected]
Further information about the situation will be given as soon as it is available – and we ask local residents to follow the Derbyshire Constabulary Facebook (@derbyshireconstabulary) and Twitter (@DerbysPolice) pages and website: https://www.derbyshire.police.uk/news/derbyshire/news/
Work has continued overnight and into today to reduce the water level in the Toddbrook Reservoir and ensure the stability of the dam wall.
Currently the water level has been reduced by just over three metres and pumps are continuing to remove water at a rate of around 10cm an hour.
Once a level has been reached - and that level able to be maintained - then engineers will be able to view the damage to the wall and a decision will then be made as to the situation with regards to residents and businesses being able to re-enter Whaley Bridge.
Further rain is forecast and the levels of the reservoir are being monitored closely – including the impact that this is having on the wall and the surrounding infrastructure.
Over the past days the dam wall has been packed with 530 tonnes of aggregate which is now being cemented into place to reinforce the structural integrity of the spillway.
The Environment Agency are monitoring the flow of water into the River Goyt, and surrounding water courses, and these are said to be coping well and are being monitored and direct liaison is happening between all agencies involved around these levels.