Council ready to respond to heavy rain and strong winds tonight

HEAVY rain and high winds set to batter southern England overnight tonight have prompted the county council to increase the number of highways emergency crews on standby.

The severe weather is set to last into the weekend, as Hampshire County Council is still continuing its clear-up operation following the Christmas and New Year’s Day storms.

In the last week, highways teams have responded to more than 1,300 incidents of fallen trees and flooded roads in Hampshire, 140 of which were reported yesterday.

Emergency crews are ready with tankers and jetters to deal with water on the roads and blocked gullies, while extra arboriculture teams are on standby with chainsaws to remove fallen trees.

Up to 30mm of rain is predicted to fall by the end of tomorrow, when strong to gale force winds are also forecast, with gusts of 45-55mph inland, peaking between 11.15am and 12.15pm.

Residents are advised to only travel if necessary and to take extra care on the roads.

More heavy rain is expected on Sunday afternoon and evening, again accompanied by strong winds.

The council will prioritise main routes, but has warned that it may take weeks before all incidents are dealt with. Councillor Sean Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “Since before Christmas our teams have been working flat out to keep Hampshire moving.”

He added: “It is anticipated that our maintenance teams are likely to be very stretched and it will be necessary to priorities locations. I would ask people to bear with us while we do all we can to clear roads and incidents of flooding quickly.

"I would ask everyone to take particular care if they are travelling. Sudden, very heavy downpours can lead to roads and pavements flooding quickly. Please heed any warning signs that are placed on the highway. Do not attempt to drive through or walk through fords, and be extra careful driving through any road surface water as it may be difficult to judge its depth."

Flooding near electricity substations in residential areas should be reported to Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) on 0800 072 72 82.

Advice on flooding can be found at hants/gov.uk/flooding and flood warnings can be found on the Environment Agency website environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods. People can also call Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

If anyone has concerns about any older or vulnerable people in their community during times of adverse weather, they should call 0845 603 5630 or out of hours 0845 600 4555.

With prolonged bad weather, ground water levels are rising and surface water is also a problem on roads that are already damaged from last year’s wet autumn, and cold winter and spring. The County Council is warning that this will cause more damage to parts of the highway, and residents are being encouraged to report any potholes by calling 0845 603 5633 or online at hants.gov.uk/roadproblems.

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