RESIDENTS across Hampshire are breathing a sigh of relief as life returns to normal after severe floods.

This winter has been the wettest since records began in 1910, with the South East seeing over double the usual amount of rainfall.

Thousands of sandbags are due to start disappearing from across the district.

Sandbags remain in place along the river banks in Winchester, but paths surrounding the River Park Leisure Centre on Gordon Road are once more passable.

There was confusion as to whether the North Walls Play Area was safe to use after the floods saw it water-logged and strewn with litter and debris. It was closed on February 28, and reopened on March 7 after Winchester City Council arranged for it to be cleaned.

Parents had been critical about the council’s apparent lack of communication about the safety of the park, and concerns about contamination in the flood water, but a council spokesman reassured them that that was unlikely.

The aptly-named Water Lane is still lined with sandbags, but the road has reopened.

In Hursley Southern Water send in a high-power pump to clear blocked drains today.

Meanwhile in Hambledon, residents are preparing for the removal of 20,000 sandbags as well as resurfacing of the roads and removal of over-ground sewer pipes.

Tony Higham, chairman of the Hambledon flood action group, said: “The roads are now all almost dry other than near some properties still being pumped, although those houses have reduced the number of pumps in action.

“The Borehole reading at Broadhalfpenny Down steadied out at 67.7m on Friday, then has fallen steadily via 67.5m on Saturday, 67.0m yesterday and 66.0m this morning (March 10). So the rate of descent is increasing to reflect some recent dry weather and a glorious weekend.

“It should further accelerate, although all this water still has to flow through the village eventually, but this time probably only underground.”