THOUSANDS of residents have been evacuated over fears that a dam could collapse after it partially subsided in heavy rain.
The Environment Agency has issued a severe flood warning indicating danger to life following damage to Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge, Cheshire.
It said river levels in the River Goyt could ‘rise rapidly’ as a result of water coming from the reservoir.
Evacuees are congregating at Chapel High School in Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, where they are waiting for further instructions.
Derbyshire Police said it was unclear how long the evacuation of Whaley Bridge would last.
The force tweeted: ‘Please make alternate arrangements to stay with friends/family, ensure that pets and medication that may be needed for a number of days are taken.
‘If people do not have somewhere to go then they will be accommodated, however there is limited capacity to do so.
‘If you are unable to leave your own home and require assistance, please contact 101 and ask for the police.’
The damage to Toddbrook Reservoir’s dam wall was caused by the recent extreme weather which has brought chaos to many parts of the country.
Resident Anna Aspinall, 36, from Whaley Bridge, said she and others had been called to help place sandbags in the area around the dam, but were sent away after structural engineers advised ‘that the wall is at high risk of failing’.
‘We have had significant rainfall over the past few days resulting in the overflow of the reservoir, which is very rarely breached,’ she said.
‘The result is that the overflow this morning has undermined damage and there is a big risk of the village being flooded out. Residents are currently being evacuated along with businesses.
‘We are praying [the dam wall] holds while the Canal and River Trust try to drain the water from the reservoir. I live at the top of a hill but am very involved in community life, so want to help where I can,’ she added.
Police said road closures and diversions were in place while the stability of the wall was assessed.
Whaley Bridge sits in the immediate path of the reservoir and further downstream is New Miles, Marple and eventually Stockport where it meets the River Mersey which heads to Liverpool.
The Environment Agency said its teams were out in Cheshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester, where intense rainfall had caused flooding and disruption.
It urged people to say away from swollen rivers and to avoid driving through flood water.
It issued a series of flood warnings covering central, north-west and north-east England.
The Met Office said it should be a ‘much drier picture’ across England today.