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Huge bills as floods bring havoc to businesses across Hampshire
7:14am Tuesday 11th February 2014 in News
IT has destroyed homes and crippled businesses but there is still no end in sight for those battling flood water in Hampshire.
Businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in just three days since the floods hit the county before the weekend.
Among those worst affected are firms on a Romsey industrial estate that were hit when the first flood water burst over the banks of the River Test.
It flooded factories and warehouses, leaving huge bills and damage in its wake.
Now the Environment Agency has warned that there will be yet more flooding to come, as river levels continue to rise.
Manufacturing has been suspended, deliveries halted and customers have been diverted as some in the industrial estate in Budds Lane found their businesses disappearing under water.
Staff who did manage to get into work have been battling tirelessly to keep as much water out as possible, but with yet more rain forecast for the rest of the week, they fear that their efforts may be in vain.
Sitting in his cold, dark office with more than a foot of flood water around his feet and his two motorbikes, Robert Eldridge doesn’t know what else he can do to save his business from further damage.
Robert owns Braishfield Garages Limited, in the Frobisher Industrial Centre.
Looking out at his workshop where everything is floating and cars are stranded, albeit dry, on ramps, he estimates that the flooding has cost him at least £60,000 worth of broken machinery.
He said: “We had to evacuate on Friday and we did manage to get all the cars to safety but I was shocked at the speed of the water. I couldn’t believe how quickly it came in.
“It is heartbreaking to see this.
You have to look at the positives and thank God that no one has been injured and that this isn’t a home, but it is very close to my heart.
“I think it will be at least two weeks before we can start to do any work and it will be a month before we are up and running doing MoTs again.
“Depending how long we are out of action for, this could potentially break us. It could be catastrophic.”
Down the road, Wessex Lift Company Limited is facing a similar nightmare, estimating the cost to be much more than £50,000 after its manufacturing warehouse flooded.
Manufacturing was stopped on Friday and staff have been working hard to try to pump out as much flood water as possible with so much electrical equipment on the ground.
Paul Hillman, operations director for the company, which makes lifts for disabled people, said: “We are in trouble.
“We have five expensive machines that are in water so they are unable to operate, plus we have stock that has been damaged and orders that we simply cannot fulfil at the moment.
“We have some very upset people but what can we do? But the staff have been absolutely fantastic, doing what they can to help, having to improvise to try to keep as much water out as possible.”
Opposite, Elliott Brothers is also closed and looks set to be for at least a week, costing it about £100,000.
Kevin Dady, branch manager, said: “We have had to close because customers just can’t get down to us. We are starting to work out of other branches but this could go on for weeks.”
Victoria Parnell, who owns Inspirations Hair Design on the industrial estate, is being forced to consider opening up her kitchen as a makeshift salon.
Although her salon has been lucky and has not suffered from flooding inside, the amount of water outside has made it almost impossible for her customers to get there and she has been forced to cancel all her appointments.
She said: “When people come to have their hair done they don’t want to have to swim here and back, so I’m looking to move it up to my kitchen.
“Some people won’t like the idea of having their hair done over the kitchen sink but for those who are going away and need it done, it’s the best we can offer at the moment.”
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