Whaley Bridge Residents’ Meeting Minutes - Tuesday 6 August 2019
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Residents' meeting Tuesday, 6 August
Key = questions are indicated below in bold type.
Introduction from DCC Swann
Welcome, I’m DCC Rachel Swann. Thank you for your continued support. A fantastic effort from all concerned. The good news is that the people from Horwich End can now go home. The Environment Agency are still wanting to do some checks on the reservoir and also the expected level of rainfall. I have a meeting set for 12h00 tomorrow (Wednesday) and as soon as I have good news I will tell you. Please bear with us, as the last thing I want is for it to be dangerous for you if we let you go home; I don’t want you to feel unsafe in your homes.
Regarding security, we have had a few reports of prowlers. I can reassure you that we have a drone in the air all the time, and that the reported burglary did not show evidence of forced entry or theft.
There have been over 1,000 people involved in this incident so far. There will continue to be people involved in this right the way through to the recovery phase and beyond.
I just want to say thank you for all of the support that you have shown to us; it is very humbling.
The County Council have set up a helpline available at: 01629 533 190. In emergencies please dial 999.
We’ve been inundated with donations, and these are available from the rest centre next door.
Update from CFO McDermott
We are sticking to our three-point plan: we’ve stopped water coming in, we continue to pump water out, and we’ve made significant progress in reinforcing the dam. There has been significant progress on the drain down of the reservoir. We reached the 8m drainage earlier this morning (Tuesday), but we are still draining down until we are told to stop.
Kier Construction have constructed floating pontoons with three pumps, and this number will increase over the next few days. The pumping rate is increasing, and will continue to increase as the level decreases.
The Chinook has been flying today again to place one tonne bags of aggregate in specific locations around the reservoir. Please don’t worry if you hear it flying overhead. We’ll keep pumping until we are told to stop, or the reservoir runs dry.
Update from Canal & River Trust (CRT)
We’ve drawn the water down to 9.3m, approximately 17% is left, and we’ve not seen any further damage to the dam. The work to the inlet continues, with monitoring being implemented to ensure that the reservoir does not fill again, and that we have resilience to ensure that the reservoir stays dry. We need to be absolutely sure that the reservoir and the dam are completely safe.
Update from Environment Agency
It has been a very testing couple of weeks for the Environment Agency with the bad weather affecting the whole of the county. Going forward the dam is the main risk, and as such we cannot allow the reservoir to fill up again. We are modelling the filling of the reservoir, and this will be for all scenarios including during the winter when the catchment is saturated. Please remain patient, thanks.
When I hear back from the Environment Agency, I hope you will get some good news. The weather forecast isn’t great for the weekend, a yellow warning I believe, so we are monitoring that. We need to ensure that more water is going out in a controlled manner than coming in to the reservoir.
I know that some of you have signed up to the Derbyshire Alert. Derbyshire Constabulary is the primary source of information, and the only official method of communicating updates to residents and businesses alike; the Fire & Rescue Service will be mirroring these communications.
Update from PCC Dhindsa
Update from the PCC regarding Support Services being available to residents.
The levels of water within the dam will be closely monitored. We will ensure that there are solid evacuation plans in place should the need arise again, for example if the pumps fail. I will not let you go back home unless it is safe to do so, and that it stays safe.
You may see people tomorrow (Wednesday) in and around the town clearing up after the works to temporarily repair the dam.
Questions from the Floor
If you get the OK tomorrow at 12h00, how long will it take to let you allow us to go home.
The meeting will take place at 12h00, and they normally last an hour. We are yet to decide how we will communicate this to you, and how the repatriation will happen. There is a caveat that I cannot promise that the news will be good, but I hope it will be.
If you are returning people to their homes by zones, how will you guarantee the safety of all zones?
The contingency plans that we have in place will ensure your safety. People from Horwich End will be confined to Horwich End. The road closures will be adjusted accordingly.
The Horwich Road repatriation is immediate?
Yes, it starts now.
Why was the dam overflowing on Wednesday? Shouldn’t the gates have been opened?
The auxiliary spillway was doing its job, but it broke. There will be time after this emergency is over to review the reasons behind the damage.
Can I just say thank you for saving Whaley? (rhetorical)
Will there still be closures of roads?
Yes, and it won’t be perfect. Please bear with us.
Regarding public transport, what will the provision be?
The transport is badly disrupted. Horwich End will be open tonight, and then we will review on an ongoing basis. Let me be very clear, the meeting will be at 12pm tomorrow, and the roads may be open after that. I will make a decision after the meeting and after I have consulted with partners.
What about Furness Vale, we’ve been forgotten. Could we have 15 minutes please?
No regarding the 15 minutes; I’ve already outlined why I’ve rescinded that. Your area is still in the flood plain I’m afraid.
What is the long-term plan?
We will rebuild the reservoir. We are still in the emergency phase at the moment, but it will be rebuilt over the long-term. It may be as long as three years, but we don’t know at the moment. Once we move from the emergency phase, we will move to the reconstruction phase.
Can we confirm that Horwich End is open?
There was flooding in Buxton. Is there any help for them?
The people that were disrupted are working with High Peak Borough Council (HPBC).
What is the situation regarding gas and electricity?
We have been working with the utilities companies and they ensure us that everything is working. Checking this is in our return to home plan.
Thank you for doing a fantastic job. Why are all footpaths closed?
They are closed for the same reason as the roads, and will be opened at the same time as the roads.
You said that you would communicate with us, how will this happen?
We’ve asked that you provide us with your contact information. We’ll use as many channels as possible. We respectfully ask that the Press ensure that the residents are the first people to find out the repatriation details.
Leader of the County Council
Thank you for your patience. We are all working on the recovery plan for residents and businesses alike. We’ve put some extra money into a fund to assist those who have been badly financially impacted. This will be fast tracked, and money should be with you within 24 hours.
From Wednesday at 09h00 please call: 01629 533 399
Questions from the Floor
We have poor signal at the best of times. Can we make sure that the infrastructure is in placed to ensure that we are safe in the future?
We will feed this back into the recovery group.
Regarding road closures, will there be a list of roads that are closed, and those that are open? Thank you for everything that you’ve done.
In liaison with the Police, we’ve advised that all roads are opened at the same time when the main repatriation occurs. I can assure you that all roads will be opened.
Can you just tell us how we can donate to the crisis fund.
You can email [email protected] I understand that some people have had parking tickets as a result of this incident. They will be waived if you keep hold of the tickets.
I’d like it noted that the River Goyt on Wednesday was the highest I have ever seen. Can the CRT please ensure us that it will never happen again? The Environmental people said that we had 3 feet at least before it would become a problem.
I believe that your details were taken on Sunday. We’ll also take the video tonight as well.
I spoke to one of you on Sunday about the discretionary fund. The phoneline said it would take 24 to 72 hours to come through. Housing came and said that that if my children were hungry…
We are aware of your situation. HPBC will catch up with you after the meeting.
What about the public who want to see the dam after the incident?
We will feed back into the main recovery group as you raise a good point.
Combs is full, what are the CRT and Environment Agency doing about this?
We are inspecting this on a daily basis. If you see anything that you are worried about please ensure that you call 999.
What about suspending parking for everyone except those with a parking permit?
I think the residents and businesses would like the visitors to come.
I live in Bridgmont, are we getting patrols?
I can assure you that the evacuation zones are being patrolled. There is general and targeted patrolling in the area, and I can assure you that there has been continuity with the policing on the site.
Are you going to repair the dam or replace the dam? What about the canals level? Where will the water come from? When can we go on the canals again?
Our immediate focus is to make the dam safe. Whether we rebuild or replace will come further down the line. It is very difficult to say what we will do as yet. I understand that people are very disappointed about the canal system. We are focussing on ensuing that people can get home and back into their businesses.
Will we be able to see the plans for the repair or the rebuild of the dam?
Absolutely. We’ve been humbled by the community response to this, and we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t get you all involved. The CRT is a key part of Whaley Bridge.
If you don’t get the news that you want tomorrow, will you consider a zonal return?
Yes, I may very well do that.
How long will you (Police) be present for on-site?
We will be present on site as long as needs be.
I really hope that tomorrow will be good news. I just want to say thank you. I know that some of you are getting fed-up and I fully understand that. Your support means that our job is made a lot easier.