Whaley Bridge dam: Dozens of evacuated residents to return home

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Horwich End Whaley Bridge residents homeImage copyright
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John Lomas thanked emergency services and said it was “great” to be back home

Dozens of residents who were evacuated amid fears a damaged dam could collapse have been told they can return home.

People living in about 50 homes in Horwich End, Derbyshire, can now go home, but most of the 1,500 people evacuated last week face a further wait.

Crews pumping water from Toddbrook Reservoir have reduced water levels by more than nine metres.

Further inspections will take place to assess damage to the dam.

At a public meeting police said a safe water level at the reservoir had been reached and engineers would further assess the damage to the wall before deciding whether to allow more people to return.

Whaley Bridge residents have been told they must wait until experts confirm the site is “absolutely safe” before they can go home.

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Media captionWhaley Bridge: Aerial shots reveal reservoir drop

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann said she was confident of “good news” to come following an inspection on Wednesday.

“We have obviously been pumping the water out and it has gone down at a fast speed,” she said.

“We will keep draining the water until it is safe to stop.”

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The water is being taken out of Toddbrook Reservoir and being pumped into the River Goyt

One resident who has returned, John Lomas, said: “It’s great to be back home. All the services guys have done an excellent job, I’m very proud of them all.”

Steve Coates, who runs the Eh Up High Peak Facebook page and lives in Chapel-en-le-Frith, said his family were returning to Horwich End and could not wait to get home.

“The response of the emergency services has been fantastic, and of the community even better,” he said.

“It’s made me really proud to be part of this community.

“There have been a few problems with people not liking the cordons but once they realised how serious it is they have come together.”

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Steve Coates said his relatives were relieved to be able to return home to Horwich End

Returning resident Melissa Broxup said the last few days have been “an absolute nightmare”, but said it was “great” to be allowed to go home.

“I can finally get some sleep,” she said.

“I’m happy but on the other side I’m gutted for those who can’t come back.”

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Melissa Broxup said everyone in Whaley Bridge “has been amazing” since the evacuation

Ruth Ashton and her family, who were evacuated from Whaley Bridge on Thursday, are not among the first swathe of residents able to return home, but hope to get the green light on Wednesday.

“We don’t know when we’re going to go back,” she said.

“They’ve just said at the meeting that hopefully the rest of us will be updated after lunchtime tomorrow.

“Fingers crossed, we can go back tomorrow.”

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Fire crews said they had used miles of pipe work to pump out the water

Fire crews have been using 23 high-volume pumps to remove the reservoir’s water since part of its spillway collapsed on Thursday following heavy rainfall.

The Canal and River Trust said the reservoir was now at about 70% of its full capacity.

Firefighters used miles of pipes to remove water and engineers had built two roads to allow the pumps to be moved closer to the site.

The dam wall has been packed with 530 tonnes of aggregate, which is being cemented into place to reinforce the spillway.

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Media captionA look inside the operation to save the town of Whaley Bridge

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said the dam would eventually be rebuilt, but told residents it would be “a long-term construction project”.

“We are very much in the emergency phase now and we are currently repairing and carrying out construction work,” he said.

“It could take 18 months, two years, three years, who knows?”

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for the area for Friday and Saturday.

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