Heavy rain forecast for Sunday led Derbyshire police to evacuate a further 55 homes in the town of Whaley Bridge.

About 1,500 residents had already fled two days ago when a wall of the Toddbrook Reservoir above the town was damaged during severe rainfall, which came after a Europewide heat wave.

On Saturday, evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes for 15 minutes to gather essential items.

Pellets with sandbags are seen on the streets of Whaley Bridge (picture-alliance/dpa/Bildfunk/PA Wire/P. Byrne)

Emergency services are racing against time and the weather to shore up the damaged dam

Race against the weather

Emergency workers have been rushing to lower the water level behind the 180-year-old dam to relieve pressure, and have blocked off inlets to the reservoir to prevent more water from entering.

Military helicopters have been used to drop hundreds of sandbags on its damaged spillway wall.

“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 minimize the impact of any bad weather that does materialize,” Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gavin Tomlinson said Saturday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited rescue workers on Friday, where he said his “thoughts are with those who have had to leave their homes.” 

Further rain, floods and lightning strikes are predicted for Sunday for much of Northern England and the Midlands.

Residents of Whaley Bridge hold signs thanking emergency workers for protecting their town (picture-alliance/dpa/ZUMAPRESS/London News Pictures/J. Goodman)

Residents made placards to thank emergency workers

se/cmk (dpa, AP, AFP) 

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