Whaley Bridge dam: Dozens of evacuated residents to return home

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Media captionWhaley Bridge: Aerial shots reveal reservoir drop

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 were told they must wait until experts confirm the site is “absolutely safe” before they can go home.

Image copyright BBC Panorama
Image caption Fire crews said they had used miles of pipe work to pump out the water

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.”

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 is now at around 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.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The water is being taken out of Toddbrook Reservoir and being pumped into the River Goyt

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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