Evacuated Whaley Bridge residents allowed to go home

Evacuated Whaley Bridge residents are being allowed to return to their homes, police have confirmed this afternoon.

Wednesday, 7th August 2019, 2:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th August 2019, 3:26 pm
A police officer mans the cordon at the weekend. Photo - Leon Neal/Getty Images

In a statement issued this afternoon, the force has confirmed that the stability of the dam wall has been secured thanks to the efforts of a task force of hundreds of people working to pump water from Toddbrook Reservoir.

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Evacuated Whaley Bridge residents waiting to find out if they can go home today ...

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann said: "The hard work and dedication to achieve this has been quite simply incredible and means that I am now able to lift the evacuation order placed on Whaley Bridge and the surrounding area.

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“At the forefront of our thoughts are the communities affected by this incident who have been steadfast in the face of the peril that lay behind that dam wall.

“The danger posed by the millions of tonnes of water, which would have destroyed homes and livelihoods, could not be underestimated.

“Over the coming days and weeks further work will be completed to ascertain the damage caused to the dam wall and what actions are required for the future. We must not forget that the dam is broken.

“The Environment Agency has confirmed that the measures remaining in place at the dam will be able to manage the levels of rain forecasted, modelling against a number of scenarios. With this, and confirmation of the effectiveness of the work to repair the damage done and reduce the water coming into the reservoir, I am able to confirm it is safe for people to go back to their homes.

“I am sure that the Environment Agency will provide a further update in due course.”

While this will not be a short-term action, the immediate danger posed to Whaley Bridge, and the areas downstream in the Goyt Valley, has now passed, police said.

Officers and partners are in the process of putting in place the plans to assist residents to return to their homes and this will be completed in the coming hours.

There will also be a visible police presence in and around the area for the next seven days to help the community and address any concerns.

Rachel Swann added: “The resolve, community spirit, kindness and generosity to their fellow residents, businesses, friends and family shown in the face of such danger has been extraordinary.

“That same kindness was given to the hundreds of multi-agency workers at the dam - whose sole focus has been to ensure the resolution to this unprecedented crisis.

“Once again, may I thank all those who have helped in the effort to save the dam and a huge thank you to the communities affected.”

And Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said the large multi agency response to reduce the water level in Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge has now drawn to an end.

Firefighters, working alongside other agencies have successfully reduced the water level in the reservoir.

Speaking following the announcement that residents can return home, Derbyshire’s Chief Fire Officer Terry McDermott said “First of all can I thank the residents of Whaley Bridge and surrounding areas for their patience and support whilst we have been dealing with the critical stage of the incident and been working to reduce the water levels as safely and efficiently as possible.

“We know that being evacuated from your home is a stressing and emotional event, but the decision was taken in order to protect life and therefore was unavoidable.

“The work carried out by all emergency responders has been phenomenal and the effort by all to reduce the water level in the dam cannot be underestimated.

“We’ve had support from across the UK fire and rescue service, supporting our own Derbyshire crews who have worked tirelessly. to bring the incident to a swift and safe conclusion.

“We’ve worked side by side with all agencies, including our police colleagues, but of course we cannot omit to mention and thank the army of volunteers who have fed and watered the crews in addition to filling sandbags.

“There is still work to be done as the recovery phase of the incident commences and we start to withdraw the huge number of fire service assets from the site.

“Once again my sincere thanks and thoughts remain with the residents and community of Whaley Bridge and hope they understand the efforts we have all undertaken to keep their homes, businesses and their community safe.

“On behalf of myself and the fire and rescue service we hope Whaley Bridge can soon put this incident, which will live in their memories forever, behind them and life can quickly return to normal.”

There may be some delays on the roads when returning to your homes. Please bear with the emergency services and other agencies who are working to get residents back to their homes as safely and efficiently as possible.

The A5004 Buxton Road, just north of the junction of Macclesfield Road and Chapel Road, is currently closed due to urgent bridge repairs.

Please avoid entering Whaley Bridge from the south on this route until further notice.

Marsh Lane in New Mills is also closed due to utility works.

A multi-agency hub will be available later this afternoon at Whaley Bridge Primary School, 45 Buxton Road, Whaley Bridge, SK23 7HX for residents and businesses.

There will be representatives from High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire police, Electricity North West, Cadent Gas, United Utilities, social care, Environment Agency and mental health services. This will remain in place for the next seven days.