Wettest festive period on record will continue

First published in News

WIND and rain have made this one of the wettest Christmas periods on record.

One of the early casualties was the Andover Christmas tree outside the Guildhall on Saturday, which was removed by the borough council after it took on a dangerous lean following gales.

Hampshire County Council says it has extra resources ready to respond to the further wet weather and strong winds forecast for the new year.

The number of highways emergency crews has been increased, with tankers and jetters ready to deal with water on the roads and blocked gullies, and extra arboriculture teams on standby in the event of trees coming down.

In the last week, highways teams have responded to more than 1,300 incidents of fallen trees and flooded roads across Hampshire’s highway network.

Priority has had to be given to fixing problems on the main roads, including A and B routes.

While some minor roads are still affected, teams are aware of issues on these routes and will attend to them as soon as resources permit.

With such large numbers of incidents, it may take weeks to clear up and they would ask people to bear with them during this extremely busy period.

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.

Hampshire residents are asked to be good neighbours and check on anybody elderly or who may be vulnerable during this time.

Councillor Seán Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Our maintenance teams are likely to be very stretched and it will be necessary to prioritise locations.

“I would ask people to bear with us while we do all we can to clear roads and incidents of flooding quickly.

“Fortunately, at this time of year there is generally less traffic on the roads but 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.”

With the wet conditions expected to continue, the Environment Agency (EA) is advising communities to stay vigilant and be prepared for problems.

Any widespread and heavy rain tonight and tomorrow will fall onto areas that are already saturated following the recent rainfall, which may cause river levels to respond, as well as further flooding of low-lying land.

There is one flood warning and 48 flood alerts in force across the south east region.

Throughout the festive holiday period, EA staff have been closely monitoring the situation and been out in force each day checking flood defences, clearing trash screens and supporting flooded communities.

Julia Simpson, from EA, said: “We expect that rivers will respond to rainfall that is predicted overnight and tomorrow.

“We are monitoring the situation very closely as river levels across the south east remain high and responsive, and standing water remains in some flood plains.

“EA teams have been on the ground around the clock operating pumping stations, issuing flood warnings and checking that flood banks, walls and barriers are working effectively.

“We urge communities to prepare in advance by signing up for free flood warnings and to take action if they receive one “Advice on what to do before, during and after flooding is available on the EA website or by calling Floodline on 0845 9881188, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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