HOMES and business in Romsey’s Greatbridge area are counting the cost of flooding which has left much of it submereged for a week.

Yesterday (Thursday), the police were reporting that water levels had risen by four inches overnight following Wednesday’s storm, and was over two feet deep in places and rising.

The Environment Agency advised that Budds Lane should be completely closed and police were preparing to block it off at 5pm.

Police were also urging drivers to respect road closures in the area and telling motorists who did have to use Budds Lane and Greatbridge Road to slow down so as not to create waves which could cause further damage to properties.

A small number of troops were drafted in yesterday to help support Environment Agency staff.

Flooding and coastal risk manager for the Environment Agency in Hampshire, Andrew Gilham, said: “We have a small number of army personnel spread over different locations across the town to see if they can help us with the management of the floodwater. They may be able to help us with sandbagging and more specialised equipment. They are helping to support us and the local authority.” People were also being warned by Hampshire Fire and Rescue not to enter any floodwater in case it was contaminated with sewage.

The Budds Lane area was inundated last Friday after the River Test breached its banks.

Braishfield Garage owner, Rob Eldridge, estimates that it is going to cost him at least £100,000 before he can reopen his business on the Frobisher Industrial Centre.

“We are up to our knees in water at the garage. Two rolling brake road testing machines and electrically operated ramps have been damaged. We’ve probably lost about £60,000 of machinery here.

“All the electrical sockets in the garage are sitting in water and we haven’t got any phones either,” said Mr Eldridge, 38.

He was critical of the Environmental Agency and told the Advertiser, on Monday: “The agency promised me I could have 30 sandbags when I rang on Friday and I am still waiting for them to arrive. No-one has rung me or anything. We have not had any help from the authorities at all.

“I spoke to my insurance company on Friday and I am now waiting for the water level to go down before contacting the loss- adjusters. Depending how long we are out of action for, this could potentially break us.

“We know it floods here, but we have not known it like this before,” added Mr Eldridge who took on the business in 2000, a year before its move from Braishfield to Romsey.

He employs four mechanics and two office staff at the garage and he said they cannot do anything until all the water is pumped out of the premises.
Another business losing trade is P & B Autocentre even though water had not entered their premises.

On Monday morning, assistant manager, Mark Seymour, said: “All we can do is wash the vans and tidy up, because unless customers have a 4x4, they can’t get here. 

“We’ve had customers cars  here since Friday, but they can’t get them out because of all the water in Budds Lane, which is still closed. I had to park my car about a mile away and wade through the water to get here. It is a nightmare and we are losing a lot of trade because of the flooding.”

In the neighbouring premises occupied by Bradbeers, pumps have been going around the clock preventing water from building up inside the company’s removal and storage depot.

Bradbeers MD, Greg Davies, said: “We’ve been pumping out about 50 gallons a minute and the water level is about 3ins deep in the warehouse. When it was at its worst, it was about 5ins or 6ins deep. All our furniture and storage containers are well above floor level, so it has kept dry.”  
Down the road, Wessex Lift Company Limited estimates that the flooding will have cost them £50,00.

Manufacturing was stopped on Friday as staff have tried to pump out the water in bid to protect electrical equipment.

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? 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.”

Romsey Motor Factors, on the Fernacre Business Park, in Budds Lane, is also suffering.

Nick Palmer says it’s the worst he’s seen the flooding in the 20 years he’s run the business and he’s now using a 4x4 shuttle service to get car parts from flooded Budds Lane to the Romsey Industrial Estate, where two company vans take them on to customers.

Romsey World of Water’s manager, Mark Bradbury, said the Greatbridge Road-based aquatic centre was unlikely to reopen for a while.

Customers are unable to get to the site because Greatbridge Road is closed due to flooding and most of the aquatic centre, including the outside sales area, is submerged.