RAF Chinook drafted in to help save reservoir at risk of collapsing - as some residents refuse to leave nearby town


  • Military help emergency services prevent water flow into damaged reservoir

  • Around 6,500 people had to evacuate Derbyshire town over 'danger to life'

  • Water flow 'reduced considerably' by Friday morning as operation continues

  • RAF Chinook helicopter dropped one-ton sandbags to bolster dam

  • Small number of residents refused to evacuate despite being told to by police

An RAF Chinook has joined the fight to save a Derbyshire town at risk of disaster as a huge dam was left at risk of collapse by heavy rainfall.

The helicopter is dropping huge bags of aggregate hoped to stem the flow of water into Toddbrook Reservoir, which is at risk of collapse.

Hundreds of people who live in nearby Whaley Bridge have been evacuated after heavy downpours have left the dam wall badly damaged, risking flooding the town with the reservoir’s 1.3 million tonnes of water.

But some have refused to leave, with one resident branding the evacuation a “fuss about nothing”.

An RAF Chinook has been drafted in to drop hunge sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

Andrew Mclackland, 46, who has lived in Whaley Bridge for nine years, told the Manchester Evening News: “I think it’s health and safety gone mad, I don’t think it will go. I think it’s a fuss about nothing.”

A Derbyshire Police spokeswoman confirmed that a small number of residents had not left the town, but said they have been strongly advised to do so.

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In an update on Friday morning, Derbyshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Kem Mehmet, said: “Our message today remains the same -- as there is still a risk the dam will fail – please stay away from the area.

“If you are asked to leave, please heed emergency services and expert advice and do so. We understand that being asked to leave your home is an extremely difficult and worrying situation to find yourself in, however it is not a decision we have taken lightly and ultimately the safety of the public is our main concern.”

Graphic locates Toddbrook Reservoir dam in Whaley Bridge. See story WEATHER Rain Reservoir. Infographic PA Graphics

He said the evacuation point at Chapel High School in Chapel-en-le-Frith would remain open on Friday and residents would be accommodated if they are unable to make alternative arrangements.

“We have evacuated more than 1,000 people from the areas that would be immediately affected by floodwater should the wall fail,” he added.

“The majority have been able to find accommodation with family and friends. About 40 people have also been put up in a local hotel and they will be looked after today.”

The force said police had been helped overnight by partner agencies including the fire service who have sent firefighters from across the country, the Environment Agency, the ambulance service, local councils and emergency planning staff.

Work was set to continue on Friday to further shore up the reservoir wall with help from the Chinook as well as 16 high volume water pumps installed in the reservoir.


The RAF Chinook has dropped more than 50 tonnes of aggregate to help stem the flow of water (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

On Friday authorities said water flowing into the damaged reservoir had been “reduced considerably” after efforts by the military and emergency services.

Julie Sharman, chief operating officer of the Canal and River Trust, told the BBC that the inflow to the reservoir had “reduced considerably”.

She said: “We’ve lowered the level of the water in the reservoir by 200mm. We are obviously aiming to get that down considerably more.”

Police have also closed railway lines in the Whaley Bridge area over the flood fears.

A collapsed road in Fernilee Hamlet, just outside Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, where people have been evacuated amid fears of a reservoir dam collapse (Picture: SWNS)
Police have urged residents to evacuated Whaley Bridge amid concerns a nearby reservoir will collapse (Picture: PA)

Carolyn Whittle, who lives in Meadowfield, on the hillside in Whaley Bridge, said: “I’ve lived in Whaley (Bridge) for the best part of 45 years, and I’ve never seen water flood over the dam like that, ever, nor thought that we could possibly be at risk in this way.”

The Environment Agency issued a “danger to life” warning covering the River Goyt on Thursday, as the river could “rise rapidly” due to water rushing in from the reservoir.

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