People stand in a walkway above the dam after a reservoir was damaged by flooding, in Whaley Bridge, Britain August 1, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble
WHALEY BRIDGE, England (Reuters) – Police evacuated thousands of residents from an English town on Thursday after torrents of water cascaded from a nearby reservoir after a dam was damaged, with officials warning that subsequent flooding posed a risk to life.
Footage posted on social media showed water gushing from the Toddbrook Reservoir which sits above Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, central England.
Police said the wall of the reservoir had been damaged with locals told to leave the town, home to about 5,000 residents, and take pets and any medication they needed with them.
“Residents who have been at work, or away from the Whaley Bridge area, are strongly advised to stay away from the area following advice from the Environment Agency who have indicated that the incident currently poses a significant threat to life,” Derbyshire Police said.
Britain’s Environment Agency issued a severe flood warning for the area, saying river levels in the River Goyt which runs through the town could rise rapidly.
“We understand that there will be some concern around not being able to return home, however, our priority is to ensure people are kept safe and well and are not taking unnecessary risks,” a police spokesman said.
“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly and we appreciate that there is significant impact on this community, however, this is an unprecedented, fast-moving, emergency situation.”
The evacuation comes after heavy rain in the last couple of days led to flash floods in areas across northern England causing bridges to collapse and road closures. Britain’s Met Office said on Wednesday downpours had led to 50 mm (2 in) of rain falling in just one hour.
Reporting Andrew Marshall and Phil Noble; writing by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge