Navy keeps up the fight against flood after rivers rise up

PROTECTING Sailors from the Portsmouth area help residents in Romsey fight the floods. Picture: L(Phot) Nicky Wilson
PROTECTING Sailors from the Portsmouth area help residents in Romsey fight the floods. Picture: L(Phot) Nicky Wilson

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HUNDREDS of sailors have continued helping neighbours battle the bad weather as rivers reach critical levels.

More than 300 Royal Navy servicemen and women from Portsmouth’s HMS Illustrious, HMS Lancaster and HMS Nelson went to Romsey at the weekend. They were joined by some of their colleagues from HMS Nelson in Gosport, HMS Collingwood in Fareham, and the Royal Marines band service in Portsmouth.

People in Romsey kept the sailors topped up with cups of tea as they built walls of sandbags to protect homes.

Lieutenant High Biddlecombe, 28, of HMS Illustrious, said: ‘We’re all very pleased to be able to help the local community and do what we can to ease the impact of the flooding.

‘We have all just returned from disaster relief in the Philippines and are now effectively taking those skills to the UK.’

Meanwhile, extra financial help is being offered by the government to businesses and homes affected by the flooding.

A £5,000 ‘repair and renew’ grant will be offered to pay for repairs which improve a property’s ability to withstand future flooding.

Meanwhile, struggling businesses in flood-hit Hambledon will be able to take advantage of a £10m pot of cash under the new Business Support Scheme.

They will be able to apply to the local authority for a grant covering clean-up costs and a general fund to help them continue trading.

The average grant is expected to be around £2,500, but details of how to apply will not finalised until later this 
week.

Steve Guermonprez, who runs The Vine pub in Hambledon, was pleased extra support was being offered.

‘We are still 40 per cent down every week,’ he said.

‘Any help is terrific.’

But he was cautious about businesses being offered a tax relief for three months on business rates and VAT.

He added: ‘With the VAT and business rates, it’s just a deferment. It will help with cash flow in the short term, but if we have to pay in six months, it might mean we get hit twice just as we are getting back on our feet again.’