Entire town on brink of disaster: Police tell families to ‘get out ASAP’ in mass evacuation of 6,500 people as crumbling dam – holding 300million gallons of water – looks set to BURST at any minute after floods

  • Derbyshire Police tell residents of market town Whaley Bridge to leave their homes immediately 
  • Evacuees told to gather at a school three miles away or head further afield to stay with family or friends
  • Police urge people leaving Whaley Bridge to they take any pets and medication ‘for a number of days’
  • Met Office warns further 1.6in (40mm) rain is expected to fall in just three hours in parts of North West 

By MARK DUELL and MARTIN ROBINSON and RICHARD SPILLETT FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 14:41, 1 August 2019 

A picturesque Peak District market town was today on the verge of being wiped out as police urged up to 6,500 people to immediately evacuate before a dam with 300million gallons of water crumbles after five days of rain. 

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

A wall around the reservoir has been damaged and a huge hole appeared in it, as deluged communities across the North of England faced yet more flooding today with another fortnight’s worth of rain set to fall in three hours. 

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.

Police urged residents from the picturesque market town 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.’ 

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 scene at the Toddbrook Reservoir dam above the town of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire where flooding has burst the dam

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

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

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

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

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

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir today near the village of Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

Emergency services at Toddbrook Reservoir today near the village of Whaley Bridge after it was damaged in heavy rainfall

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

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

A whole host of emergency services were pictured this evening as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

A whole host of emergency services were pictured this evening as they tried to battle the damage and keep residents safe from harm

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

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

This graphic shows where the town of Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it

This graphic shows where the town of Whaley Bridge is in relation to the reservoir and the dam wall which has a hole in it

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it as other emergency workers are seen in the river

The image above shows one man climbing underneath the bridge and investigating the structure of it as other emergency workers are seen in the river

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.’

Network Rail confirmed Northern trains between Hazel Grove and Buxton had been stopped in both directions until at least 7pm and will only run again when emergency services confirm it is safe for them to do so.

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, is 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.’

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

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

Police have been going door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school for evacuation. Pictured above the reservoir with properties infront

Police have been going door to door in the area telling people to leave their homes and businesses and gather at a local school for evacuation. Pictured above the reservoir with properties infront

One emergency services worker can be seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage. A police van and JCB digger were also picture on the scene

One emergency services worker can be seen with his hands on his head after battling to repair the damage. A police van and JCB digger were also picture on the scene.

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