Many Whaley Bridge residents forced to flee their homes due to the Toddbrook Reservoir emergency have relied on the support of friends and family, but some left with nowhere to go have been offered accommodation in Buxton.
The Palace Hotel and the University of Derby’s halls of residence have taken in families, couples and even a cat and a dog.
Seventeen-year-old mum Carla Daisley was told by police on Thursday she had to leave her home immediately, and was given a room at the Palace Hotel.
She said: “It was really scary, everything happened so quickly. The police came knocking on the door and said if we didn’t get out we’d be arrested, so we just grabbed what we could.
“I’m living out of plastic bags, but at least I’m safe.”
Carla and one-year-old Freddie left in such a hurry that they did not have everything they need, but thanks to the kindness of the community she has been loaned a travel cot to make staying in the hotel much easier.
She said: “It’s so nice to know there are people out there who can help you out when you need it the most.
“I just want to hug all the firefighters and the emergency services to say thank you for everything they are doing.” Sue Goodchild, the Palace Hotel’s holding manager, said: “What has hit us the most is the community spirit of everyone.
“We have had people from all over the world ringing up and cancelling their rooms so we could give them to those who have been evacuated which is just amazing.”
The Palace Hotel is catering for 30 people who have left Whaley Bridge and is also providing accommodation for 60 firefighters from all over the country who have come to help out.
Sue said: “They have been coming back so tired and we want to help them however we can so we have been opening the restaurant earlier so the emergency service teams can get a proper meal before they head back out for another long shift.
“Everyone has been made to feel welcome here and I hope they are able to return to their own homes safely and quickly.”
Dave and Sue Merrell were among approximately 1,500 Whaley Bridge residents evacuated from their homes on Thursday.
Sue said: “If the dam did go the house would be flooded.”
A further 55 properties in the Horwich End were cleared on Saturday evening due to the risk posed by adverse weather which had been forecast.
Nigel Marshall has been temporarily rehomed at the Portland Hotel in Buxton and says he has been looked after and supported throughout the whole process.
He said: “Everyone is working so hard to make sure people are given the right information.
“The emergency services should be proud of the work they are doing.” Police had briefly allowed people to re-enter their properties to gather more belongings, but after some people refused to leave those who have been evacuated have not been allowed back.
For some families ‘home’ is currently the halls of residence at the Buxton campus of the University of Derby.
Deputy director of student accommodation, Guy Gibson, said: “The university has a well practised incident plan in place and when the calls started coming in on Thursday we realised how bad things were.
“We want to be making a contribution to our community and society, not sitting on the sidelines, so opening our doors was a no brainer.” Nineteen families are staying for free in the halls while they await further instructions about returning to their homes.
Guy added: “The situation is changing hour by hour and day by day so we can’t say what the future will bring, but we want the people of Whaley Bridge and the surrounding areas to know we will be here for them.”
Terry Mellor was taken in by his sister Janice, sleeping on her floor.
He said: “Everyone just got evicted - the police said it’s at your own risk if you stay. That’s what the police said when I went back for my medication and other things.”