THE BATTLE to keep Romsey above water entered “unchartered territory”as the Army were drafted in to build defences for the flood-hit market town.
Experts from the Environment Agency admitted that they “didn’t know all the answers” but were working day and night to stop the deluge of water drowning homes and businesses for more than a week.
The latest phase of their action plan was set into motion yesterday afternoon, with the creation of a defence wall along the Fishlake side of the River Test made up of more than 5,000 sandbags.
A unit of 70 soldiers from the Light Dragoons unit, in Norfolk, arrived by coach to help firefighters and workers from NGS, who came armed with 4,000 bags, to fill them and stack them up – through the night if needed - in a bid to reduce the flow of water hitting those living and working in Greatbridge Road and Budds Lane.
Currently 50 tonnes of water a second is flowing from the river – double the amount it takes to flood the river – which has forced residents from their homes and left companies crippled on the industrial estate.
It is hoped that the wall of sandbags will keep the water within the natural river flow and stop it crashing down into the meadows, homes and businesses.
Andy Roberts, a technical specialist for the Environment Agency, said: “This is unchartered territory. It has just carried on raining.
“We are entering a phase where we don’t know the answers and we are trying to resolve them all of the time.
“That is why it is so important for us to take this action, monitor the situation and assess if it is having a good impact.”
The vital operation forced the closure of Stockbridge Road just before the Duke’s Head pub, which although open, estimates it has lost thousands of pounds in business as two of the three ways to get there are now shut off.
But that is not the only business suffering, with those on the industrial estate in Budds Lane told yesterday to expect the road to remain closed for up to three weeks.
As previously reported, business owners were left fuming on Thursday night when the road was shut by police, who believed the rising water levels posed a risk to life.
Some of the companies who had managed to keep going, despite the flood water, were angry that they had been forced to shut up shop, costing them tens of thousands of pounds.
But even the concrete blocks in the road couldn’t stop some determined business owners trying to salvage some trade.
Dean Young, from 2 Wheels Warehouse, a motorcycle warehouse, waded up and down the road carrying whatever stock he could in his rucksack and boxes so that he didn’t let his customers down.
He said: “It is a nightmare but I am doing what I can to keep my business from going under. Our sales are mostly online so our customers do not understand that we are surrounded by water, they just want their orders.”