THE results of flooding from a damaged reservoir in Derbyshire would have been “catastrophic”, the Priest-in-Charge of St James’s, Whaley Bridge, the Revd Margaret Jones, said last Friday.
The military was brought in to try and stop Toddbrook Reservoir from flooding the town, which has remained in danger since the dam holding the water back was partially damaged on Thursday of last week, after heavy rain.
“It is very scary, because if the dam burst it would be catastrophic for the community. . . It is very bad,” Mrs Jones said.
She was one of 1500 people to leave their homes when the town was evacuated amid “mortal danger” warnings issued on Thursday of last week. “We have been debating which way the water would go, and it would definitely go towards my end of the town,” she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, residents were told that they could return to their homes.PAAn RAF Chinook flies ballast to the Toddbrook Reservoir
A spokesman for the Environment Agency told residents at a community meeting, on Tuesday night, however, that the reconstruction could take months or years. “We are very much in the emergency phase now, and we are currently repairing and carrying out construction work,” he said.
“It is a long-term construction project, but we will not have started from scratch. It could take 18 months, two years, three years — who knows?”
An RAF Chinook helicopter dropped 400 tonnes of aggregate on the damaged section of the dam, and 4.2 million litres of water is being pumped out of the reservoir every hour by the emergency services.
The reservoir is operated by the Canal and River Trust. On Tuesday, in a statement, it said: “The water has been pumped out at a controlled rate and good progress is being made.”
The water in the reservoir was now at 17 per cent of capacity, after fire crews had used 23 high-volume pumps to move water to the River Goyt.
It had been an “interesting day”, Mrs Jones said. The emergency had brought the town together.
“There is a real good spirit about things in Whaley. The community have been amazing in the way they have helped and supported each other.
“Last night about 80 people turned up at the town’s school, most of which were then helped by family and friends in terms of accommodation.
“People have been great, and I have also had so many emails of support from people I don’t know.”
The deputy chief constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, Rachel Swann, told residents on Tuesday that she was confident of “good news” for them soon.
She said: “We have obviously been pumping the water out, and it has gone down at a fast speed. It is now beyond 9.5 metres. We will keep draining the water until it is safe to stop.”
The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, said: “The evacuation prompted a sense of community and care that has been wonderful to see. . .
“People of all faiths and none have come together, in partnership with statutory providers, with practical and emotional support. We honour those who have been working, despite the risks involved, to keep the people of Whaley Bridge safe.”