THE military has joined the fight against the floods in Winchester.

Just before 10pm last night, the Royal Navy and the army were called to help stem the tide of water flooding into the city from the River Itchen.

Around 100 personnel laid 800 sandbags along Water Lane.

Winchester City Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Rob Humby, said: “We very concerned about certain areas now. Winchester is moving up the scale of worst hit areas and the Enviornment Agency are very concerned about our area at the moment.

Cllr Humby said millitary were expected to return this morning to an area north of the leisure centre at North Walls, in Winnall Moors.

Winchester Fire Station is being used as a joint-briefing centre for emrgency services and the military, and later this morning soldiers will be at the council's Bar End depot to fill sandbags. 

“We have been looking at trying to restrict the flow to give us some respite.

“We have been discussing this plan since this morning. We’re looking at creating holding tanks to relieve the pressure up stream.”

Pensioner Terry Faragher, 80, who lives on Water Lane, said: "We're very nervous because it's starting to lap up against the edge. We're just battening down the hatches and crossing our fingers - what more can you do?"

Some 35,000 sandbags have been delivered across Hampshire and a council spokesman said so far a total of 60 houses have flooded.

Cllr Humby urged residents whose homes are under threat to contact the city council for help.

“We had one gentleman who phoned us and wanted a portable toilet. It’s not that we wouldn’t do that – it’s that we should be finding him somewhere else to stay.”

The school was closed for 18 months in 2000 following severe flooding and will remain partially shut all this week due to flooding in the playground and problems with the toilets draining.

Year 6 pupils will return to class on Wednesday.

The Pilgrim’s School, the choir school for Winchester Cathedral, has also been disrupted by the flooding and the ancient Pilgrim's Hall, used for assemblies, has been submerged under two inches of water. A newsletter from the head went out thanking boys and staff for their patience in the face of “persistent challenges from the unremitting rain.”

Meanwhile the city council has also confirmed River Park Leisure Centre will be closed until further notice due to floods.

The military presence follows calls across the country for intervention due to the widespread flooding the severe weather has caused.

The effects of the weather have left people trapped in their homes and vehicles and caused transport chaos across the region, with trains cancelled and roads closed.