COMMUNITIES across the district have been anxiously watching the skies and the weather forecast as river levels edged higher daily this week reaching critical level in many areas.

Test Valley Borough Council has called for military assistance.

By Thursday the Anton in the centre of Andover was at maximum capacity and several roads were closed by floodwater.

In Shipton Bellinger authorities have been monitoring the River Bourne.

Council chairman Ann Reynolds said: “It all depends on how much rain we get but the river has been cleared and seems to be flowing much better than it did – but we do have low bridges that can cause problems.

“We are seeing people who have sewage issues, though.”

Test Valley says its workforce has worked around the clock since Friday to provide sandbags to those affected by flooding.

The council opened its customer services unit over the weekend to manage calls relating to the floods and set up its emergency control centre on Saturday morning. This has been operating 24 hours a day to deal with flooding issues.

On Wednesday afternoon the council said it was busy delivering sandbags to Andover residents potentially affected by flooding after the Environment Agency issued a warning for the town. Areas covered by the warning include Andover, Upper Clatford and Goodworth Clatford on the River Anton.

The council requested military assistance to help fill sandbags and more than 8,000 have been distributed so far.

A letter providing guidance and information about how to protect homes and the steps people should take should flooding occur was circulated in parts of Andover on Wednesday.

In addition the authority deployed housing staff to liaise with residents whose homes are at risk, to identify where there is a need to provide accommodation.

Sandbags are available free of charge to those at imminent risk of flooding. Any residents requiring sandbags are asked to contact the council on 01264 368000.

Councillor Ian Carr, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said: “I would like to say a massive thank you to all those involved in the flooding response.

All agencies are working incredibly hard to protect residents, businesses and properties.

“I would also urge the public to take extra care as the situation continues.

“Groundwater is expected to continue to rise over the coming days and weeks and as the River Test is groundwater fed this creates its own set of problems. We will continue to do all we can to manage the situation and help those affected.”

Residents at risk of flooding can help protect themselves and their homes in a number of ways, including: Removing all furniture and valuables from the ground floor or raising them off the floor.

People should avoid walking through floodwater as the water can cause manhole covers to come off leaving hidden dangers.

Avoiding driving through floodwater as bow waves can cause damage to properties and just 12 inches of water can float a car.

In Tidworth flood warden Cllr Andrew Connolly said: “There was concern raised at January’s town council meeting about silted and blocked gullies along the length of Pennings Road.

Wiltshire Council has had these cleared and I have personally checked to ensure they are all draining surface water during periods of high rainfall.

“I am liaising closely with the Environment Agency, which has been extremely diligent in keeping a close eye on the ever changing situation and alerting both myself and residents to impending flood risks.”