News World Race against time and weather to evacuate English town below collapsing dam wall

Race against time and weather to evacuate English town below collapsing dam wall

Whaley Bridge sits directly below the disintegrating dam wall. Photo: Twitter
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Looming storms and the prospect of heavy rain have added a further urgency to the evacuation of an English town downstream from a failing dam wall.

Two days after some 1,500 residents fled their homes in Whaley Bridge, near Manchester, a further 55 homes were being evacuated, Derbyshire Police said.

Earlier on Saturday, residents were briefly allowed to return to their homes to collect essential belongings and pets as rescue crews worked to repair Toddbrook Reservoir’s partially-collapsed dam wall, the Department for Environment said.

A Met Office yellow weather warning is in place on Sunday for much of northern England and the Midlands, including the area around the reservoir.

Military helicopters dropped over 400 sandbags against the damaged wall and operations to pump away water continued as levels at the reservoir had been reduced by 1.3 metres since Thursday.

However, “the state of the dam is still in a critical condition and that the risk of breach is still a very real threat,” Chief Superintendent Michelle Shooter said.
Fire brigade chief Terry McDermott said the engineers working to repair the dam were “very unsettled” by the current situation.

“Everyone is working as hard as possible to get ahead of the curve and remove as much water as possible today, overnight and into tomorrow, to minimise the impact of any bad weather that does materialise,” Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gavin Tomlinson said.

– with AAP