Now the navy steps in to help with the flood effort

A team from the Royal Navy visited Hambledon to see how they could help following recent flooding in the village. (left to right), ABs Liam Wolfe and Jack Drake.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (14446- 4)
A team from the Royal Navy visited Hambledon to see how they could help following recent flooding in the village. (left to right), ABs Liam Wolfe and Jack Drake.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (14446- 4)
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THE ROYAL Navy were called into Hambledon as the flooding crisis heightened to new levels.

Ten officers were deployed to the flood-stricken village after desperate residents asked for extra help to stop their homes being flooded.

It came as 60mph winds and torrential rain battered the village’s flood defences last night.

Pumps have been working round-the-clock for the last six weeks and the covers on sandbags are now wearing thin – leading to fears that a powercut or any hitches in the defences could lead to widespread disaster.

Petty Officer Kevin Hall, from HMS Collingwood, went out with his team, along with Neil Mason, who co-ordinated the visit.

Mr Hall said: ‘The local team that has been dealing with the floods requested back up, in case the power went out and we needed to get generators on.

‘Some houses here are at risk of flooding, and have pumps taking out the water.

‘There was a worry that if the weather persisted and there was a powercut, the pumps would stop working.

‘That would be significant, as water would fill into the homes quickly.’

Mr Mason said that yesterday, residents were stood in around 10 inches of water.

He said: ‘This flooding is the equivalent of what happened in 2011.

‘I showed the navy houses and areas that are prone to flooding, so they were aware of the most at-risk.’

Hampshire County Council’s Accredited Community Safety Officers (ACSOs) have been helping the 100-strong team of resident volunteers in Hambledon over the past few weeks.

But flooding in other villages has led to redeployment of some of these officers.

Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, said: ‘We have not got enough manpower.

‘ACSOs have been deployed elsewhere in the county, particularly overnight we have not got the professional manpower in the village.

‘The fit male members will be looking after their own properties. We have lots of properties with elderly and vulnerable and there’s no way they can chuck stuff around in the night.’

Mik Norman, chairman of Hambledon Parish Council, said: ‘We have 10 properties affected here.

‘There could suddenly be one power cut and we have another 60, maybe 100, that’s the worry.

‘That’s why need the emergency services on call and the military if necessary should a power cut occur.’

Mr Norman said it was a ‘prudent move’ to call in the military.

He added: ‘We have a serious situation here.’

Meanwhile, George Hollingbery, the MP for the Meon Valley, is set to meet with senior government ministers to discuss the urgent need for a 1m-wide drainage pipe under the village’s main road.

He told The Commons: ‘Yesterday marked the passage of 40 days and 40 long nights since Hambledon was first flooded by emerging groundwater and no-one has any idea when the flooding will recede. Only through the titanic efforts of the community and responding agencies have many of the houses in the village been saved thus far from inundation.

‘But at huge cost to the lives of the residents. Every night they sleep in shifts to monitor their pumps. Every day they wake up wondering if today’s the day they will flood. The village is largely cut off from the rest of the world.’

In Denmead, the junction of Anmore Road and Edneys Lane, was closed all the way down to Kings Pond and Soake Road.

A Portsmouth-bound train from Salisbury was hit by a tree, just outside of Romsey last night.

And the cruise ship Marco Polo, which sails from Portsmouth, took a battering in the storms, which left an 85-year-old male passenger dead.

Forecasters predict a bright day tomorrow, before wet and windy weather arrives from about 3am on Monday.