TROOPS and Navy personnel have saved Romsey from a major flooding disaster.

Action taken by servicemen drafted into to bolster flood defences has seen a significant reduction of water levels in areas of the town hit by flooding two weeks ago.

Roads at Greatbridge have now reopened, including the Romsey to Stockbridge road and Budds Lane – the only route in the industrial estate, where businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds of trade because the road has been closed. Emergency measures were put in place along the River Test and Fishlake Stream in a successful attempt to prevent areas outside Greatbridge, which was already submerged from being swamped.

Servicemen, some in diving gear, were deployed by the Environment Agency to build a temporary “dam”, using scaffolding and other materials to slow the flow of water just north of the town on the Fishlake Stream, at Greatbridge and they also reinforced riverbanks with sandbags at Mill Lane, the Memorial Park and Riverside Garden areas.

Restrictions or controls on water flows were also made on the Test in the Burnt Mill, Saddler’s Mill and Mainstone areas of the town, to divert water onto the natural floodplains west of Romsey.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue were also involved in the emergency action.

The troops from Tidworth-based 22 Engineers Regiment were due to complete their work in the town yesterday (Thursday). A spokesman said: “About 30 men have been doing channelling work. It was certainly a challenge for them, which tested the officer on the site and the men on the river.

“They were working on the river with about 50 tons of water going past them every second.”