Whaley Bridge dam

Last week I wrote in my column how much I enjoyed my walks in Whaley Bridge park.  Little did I know that just a few hours after publication, the park and reservoir overlooking it would be in such danger.

It’s been an incredible week – from my daughter’s call on Thursday to say she’d been asked to evacuate the children she was looking after at Whaley Bridge Holiday Club – to seeing the reservoir almost empty today.

I was in remote Scotland with my younger children when it happened and was immediately speaking with the police, Environment Agency, Ministers and local councillors to make sure everything was being done to save the dam, and to accommodate all the people affected.

I was unable to get back on Thursday, so travelled home on Friday to make sure I was able to give all my support to the incredible effort that was being undertaken.

The operation at Whaley Bridge dam was truly amazing – teams of hundreds of firefighters, construction workers, military support, police, our Mountain Rescue teams and many volunteers.

Over 1,000 people were working flat out, over shifts of many hours, to save our communities from the destruction that would have befallen them.

Just as amazing a role was being played by our local community, based at Whaley Bridge Football pavilion on one side of the dam and the sailing club at the other. 

With very limited facilities, they were catering for hundreds of people, very hungry after long shifts.    Our local supermarkets, businesses and neighbours were doing a fantastic job sending deliveries of food and water to the emergency teams and to the relief centre at Chapel High School.

I’ve been trying to keep people informed as best I can with all of the information that’s needed by residents, and to support everyone who needs it.

There’s a limit to what an MP can do in these situations but as an experienced mum it was a pleasure to help organise what was needed, collect supplies, and do whatever was asked by the teams.  From delivering ice lollies to the front-line on a hot Saturday to some bulk baking on Sunday when hot food was needed.

To play just a small part in the community effort was a privilege.  All of the emergency workers from far afield have said they’ve never been so well looked after at any incident.

We owe a huge debt of thanks to everyone who’s helped to save the situation from disaster, but also to all the volunteers and community from across High Peak.

We have been through a lot, and it will take time to recover, but we can all be proud of the way our whole community has come through.