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Whaley Bridge dam: Community spirit helps town's evacuees

By Liam Barnes and Jennifer Harby
BBC News

image captionParish councillor Charles Lawley went to Chapel-en-le-Frith leisure centre to help evacuated residents

There's nothing like a crisis to show you what people are made of.

And the people of Whaley Bridge, in Derbyshire, forced to evacuate their town due to Toddbrook Reservoir's crumbling dam wall, have found the kindness of strangers invaluable.

Many have spoken warmly of the community spirit within the town itself, as well as the offers of help from charities, hotels and neighbouring communities.

Philip Jupp, a resident for 30 years who has left his home to stay with family, requires regular kidney dialysis.

image copyrightPenny Appeal
image captionMuslim-led charity Penny Appeal have delivered sandbags, toiletries, sleeping bags and blankets the people of Whaley Bridge

"I'm fortunate that I dialysed yesterday but I'll need to be on dialysis again by Saturday or I might get a little bit ill," he said.

"I'm sure I'll be all right. People have been so kind - so helpful.

"We are quite stalwart in Derbyshire. People are calm and getting on with trying to cope in this extreme situation."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionVolunteers and emergency services staff have been praised for their response

As residents were informed they had to be evacuated, people in surrounding communities begin to offer spare rooms on social media.

Bev Goodwin lives three miles (5km) away in Chapel-en-le-Frith, and has put up her mum and dad, Joy and Steve, and two friends - Susie and Angela from Whaley Bridge.

Joy said: "I'm very lucky that we could get to Bev.

"We have nothing. No clothes, no toothbrush, nothing."

image captionBev Goodwin is putting up her family and friends
image copyrightLincsFireOfficer
image captionTeams of firefighters worked through the night to pump water out of the reservoir

About 20 people, including emergency workers, spent a free night at The Palace Hotel in Buxton, which was expecting more to arrive on Friday and said it was "all hands on deck".

As well as offers of a place to stay, supplies of food and drink were also brought in to give evacuees some sustenance.

Charles Lawley, a Chapel-en-le-Frith parish councillor, went to the town's leisure centre on Thursday night to offer assistance to Whaley Bridge residents waiting inside.

"I work for a humanitarian aid charity, so I've done this in Syria," he said.

"There's been so much generosity from the local community."

image copyrightCharles Lawley
image captionSupplies have been donated for families who have had to leave their homes

Emergency services staff and volunteers are also being thanked for their efforts by grateful local businesses.

Buxton Mountain Rescue, which has been assisting local residents, volunteers and other emergency services, thanked The Soldier Dick pub in nearby Furness Vale for supplying free food and drinks for rescue workers and emergency services on Thursday night.

"On behalf of all of the emergency services, we'd like to thank the massive support from the local community in these testing times," it said.

As might be expected on such a dramatic day, there were odd moments of panic, as Barry Rudd wrote on the Whaley Bridge Facebook page.

"In true British style there was a minor crisis in that we run out milk for the copious amounts of tea that hundreds of crew get though," it said.

"Well done to all those that turned up to volunteer."

image copyrightReuters
image captionLocal communities have rallied around residents of Whaley Bridge

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Related Topics

  • Whaley Bridge
  • Floods
  • Whaley Bridge dam

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