August 02, 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited Whaley Bridge where a nearby damaged dam remains at a “critical level” with the potential to cause massive flooding in the town.
Derbyshire Dam At Critical Level - Everything We Know About The Race To Save Whaley Bridge
Water levels at the Toddbrook Reservoir have been reduced by half a metre but engineers remain “very concerned” about the integrity of the damaged 180-year-old structure, which contains around 1.3 million tonnes of water.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge over fears it could rupture and flood their homes, the Press Association reports.
Here’s the latest news on Friday evening...The damAn RAF Chinook and around 150 firefighters using high-volume pumps appear to have partly stabilised the “unprecedented, fast-moving emergency situation” caused by heavy rain.During a multi-agency press conference, Assistant Chief Constable Kem Mehmet of Derbyshire police said there was still  “a substantial threat to life” if the dam wall fails.
“We would ask residents to continue to heed police advice and stay away from Whaley Bridge,” he told the press conference on Friday.
Julie Sharman, chief operating officer for the Canal and River Trust, told the press conference the water level needs to be reduced by “several more” metres, with more pumps being installed on Friday evening.
“This is still a very critical situation,” she said.
“Until we are confident we can control that risk, then our position has to be to protect the public safety and limit access because we don’t want to put people at risk.”The centre of #WhaleyBridge which would normally be buzzing with shoppers, workers, people grabbing a coffee at the cafe ... eerily silent this morningLimited supervised access is being granted to people coming back for beloved pets.Thoughts are with the emergency crews 🙏🏼♥️ pic.twitter.com/f1z4GYxpKU— Hanna Sillitoe (@HannaSillitoe) August 2, 2019The residentsAround 1,000 people were evacuated from the town but most found their own accommodation with family and friends, according to Derbyshire County Council.
Due to concerns raised by residents over pets being left behind, Mehmet said officers had made the “difficult” decision to allow people to return to their homes temporarily.
“We will be putting plans in place for residents to return to their home to pick up very vital things they need along with their animal welfare,” he told reporters.
“This is very controlled, I must stress that, because this is still life at risk.”
Numbers returning will be restricted to one person per household, he said, and it was “difficult” to say when people would be allowed to return permanently.
Animal Search UK will be on site on Saturday and said “around a hundred” people had been in touch with concerns over missing pets but could not provide an accurate figure for how many were left in Whaley Bridge.Anyone concerned about a pet left behind can contact them on 01244 355247.If you need any tips or advice, visit https://t.co/tukKDHEGHm or email us to info@animalsearchuk.co.uk#WhaleyBridgepic.twitter.com/ybhGwmrLtl— Animal Search UK (@AnimalSearchUK) August 1, 2019The ChinookThe Chinook has been dropping one-ton sandbags on to the damaged area to bolster the structure.
Improving weather and work on the inflows means the amount of water entering the reservoir has also reduced.The Prime MinisterJohnson spent about half an hour talking to different groups of residents in the school gym and also police officers who helped with the evacuation.
One woman told the Prime Minster she was worried that residents would be let back home and then the dam would burst.Johnson said: “No, no, we can’t do that. That’s why there may be a bit more inconvenience and it may go on for a few days because they really have to check this out.”
Asked about the operation he saw, he said: “It’s very impressive, there’s a huge amount of work going on.”
Another resident asked if he was surprised by the amount of damage. Johnson said: “I was. You can see why, plainly, it’s not safe to be in Whaley Bridge.”
One police officer said that if the dam had burst it would have been like the Ruhr valley – an apparent reference to the RAF’s dambusting raid in the Second World War.
Johnson said: “It would have been like the Ruhr valley. It would have been like the final moment in that film. Well, let’s hope it doesn’t happen. It looks dodgy but stable.”Related... People Are Posting Eerie Pics Of Whaley Bridge's Deserted Streets After Flood Evacuation RAF Chinook Drafted In To Whaley Bridge Amid Dam Collapse Fears
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