DEMANDS for help are being made as communities prepare themselves for another flooding crisis.
Village leaders from Hambledon will meet with emergency planners from Hampshire County Council tomorrow to thrash out a plan.
It comes as official figures from the Environment Agency show the groundwater levels in Hambledon are 10m higher than this time last year – and are rising by more than half a metre every day.
Meanwhile, in Finchdean and Rowlands Castle, flood defence preparations are already well under way, with ditches dug and landowners having cleared drainage channels.
With weeks of rain forecast, Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, is demanding up to 10,000 sand bags are ready to be deployed.
And he wants assurances that council volunteers sent to help villagers will be properly trained, including in traffic management, and will be able to be deployed over Christmas.
Southern Electric needs to be prepared to deploy emergency generators and Southern Water needs to be ready, said Mr Higham.
‘All the levers have to be in place from all the various agencies,’ he said.
‘There’s a few questions out there.
‘I am going to dig my heels in and shan’t be leaving the meeting until they are answered.’
A £4.3m scheme to build a pipe under Hambledon has begun, but it will not be finished until 2016.
It leaves Hambledon at the mercy of the weather this winter following major flooding at the beginning of the year.
Accredited Community Safety Officers, employed by the county council, were instrumental in helping villagers earlier this year, but have been made redundant to save money.
The authority says it has created a pool of emergency response workers from its staff and they can be called upon day or night to help.
Steve Protheroe, chairman of Rowlands Castle Flood Action Group, said he was hopeful the early preparations would avert major flooding.
He said: ‘We are on standby and, subject to local authority support and residents pulling together, we hope to have minimised the risk of flooding to as many properties as possible with sandbags at the ready again.’
Councillor Sean Woodward, in charge of environment, said highway teams have cleared an additional 2,500 gullies and drainage channels across the county to reduce flood risk. He added: ‘We have sandbags, sand and automated machines at all the highways depots across the county so can fill and deploy sandbags to protect the highways as soon as they are needed.’
Forecasters say prepare for a wet winter
FORECASTERS are predicting a wetter winter than average.
In a three-month forecast for the winter the Met Office said the outlook ‘suggests an increased risk of milder and wetter than average conditions’.
Last winter was the wettest on record, with the average rainfall for winter reaching more than 21 inches – eight inches greater than the usual for the time of year.
The good news is that high pressure along the south coast is set to mean largely dry weather for the rest of the week. But experts believe an unusually strong jet stream could drag a series of storms across the UK over the coming months.