Hundreds of staff from the emergency services, the military, highways, social care, emergency planning and other frontline services across Hampshire were the special guests of a reception thanking them for their response to the floods.
Hosted by the Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, and the Lord Lieutenant Dame Mary Fagan, the reception in the Great Hall, Winchester, was a tribute to all those involved in the frontline efforts to keep Hampshire as safe as possible during the wettest winter in more than 200 years.
Councillor Perry said: "The extreme weather this winter posed some tough challenges in Hampshire. It is a year we will not forget; not just for the flooding but for the lessons learned and accomplishments made, during such a challenging time.
"Importantly, this year demonstrated the importance of partnerships and on behalf of the County Council, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who played a part. We received tremendous support from the emergency services and from district councils, and from the armed forces who played an integral role in averting further flooding from rivers in Winchester and Romsey. Our highways partner, Amey, worked tirelessly tackling problems on our roads, and our thanks also go to our Accredited Community Safety Officers, utilities companies and the Environment Agency. I was struck also by the readiness of volunteers, and recall a visit to Hambledon where I witnessed local farmers out on their tractors moving sandbags into place.
"We are indebted to the tremendous work undertaken by all those involved, and the cooperation demonstrated during these past months will, I am sure, put us in good stead for challenges we may face in the future."
Many areas across Hampshire were affected by the winter flooding, from heavy rainfall causing high groundwater levels, to river flooding threatening properties in Winchester and Romsey. Over 300 homes were flooded and around 100 households evacuated, with more than 1,000 fallen trees cleared from roads. Extra staff were brought in to ensure the majority of the highways network was safe and open, and around 92,000 sandbags were deployed on roads and river banks.
The County Council Leader has also awarded grants of £5,000 each, to the benevolent funds of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to acknowledge the efforts of the military personnel.
The reception took place on the same day as a visit to Hampshire from Government Minister Greg Barker, one of the Prime Minister's special flood envoys. With a multi-agency briefing hosted by the County Council in Winchester, and site visits to the River Itchen in Winchester city centre, and to meet local residents in Hambledon, the Minister saw the full range of challenges and actions undertaken across the county by agencies working in collaboration to respond to the flooding.