Concern over missing residents at Peak District village near crumbling dam

Derbyshire Constabulary are appealing for cooperation from some residents in the Peak District to present themselves after they were allowed to briefly return to their homes yesterday.

Monday, 5th August 2019, 12:11 pm
Toddbrook Reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, after it was damaged in heavy rainfall. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 1, 2019. See PA story WEATHER Rain. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

On Saturday, residents in Whaley Bridge were allowed to return to their homes 'at their own risk' to pick up their pets and other essentials.

But earlier today, the taskforce decided not to allow anybody to enter the small town amid fears a forecast storm could cause the damaged dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir to burst.

Derbyshire Constabulary, Deputy Chief Constablel Rachel Swann has expressed concern on the residents and her officers' well-being as the current situation at the reservoir remains critical.

"I took the decision this morning to stop allowing residents and businesses back into Whaley Bridge. This decision was not taken lightly.

"The risk to life during those trips was extraordinary high; however, I understood the reasons that residents and businesses required that opportunity.

"The vast majority of those who have been allowed back to Whaley Bridge have been fantastic, however, there have been a very small minority of people who have returned to their homes and have not presented back at the road block at which they entered.

"These people are putting the lives of officers at risk as further checks have to now be completed to ensure those residents are out of the area safely.

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, after it was damaged by heavy rainfall. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 3, 2019. See PA story WEATHER Rain. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

"The officers carrying out these checks are mothers, fathers, partners and friends. I want my officers to be able to return to their families at the end of their shifts - not be put in harm's way," she said in a statement.

On Thursday, thousands of residents were evacuated from the Whaley Bridge area after the dam wall became cracked and started to fall away following torrential rain.

A major operation involving a multi-agency taskforce consisting the Environment Agency, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, the Canal River Trust, police, military and many others, has been ongoing in recent days to try and secure the damaged dam.

Derbyshire Constabulary said currently the water level has been reduced by just over three metres and pumps are continuing to remove water at a rate of around 10cm an hour.

The decision to allow the residents and businesses to re-enter Whaley Bridge will only be made after engineers are able to assess the damage to the wall.