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Dec. 6th, 2013 @ 08:51 pm Springtide and Delta Works
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
Last evening, a severe storm came from the North Sea over the Netherlands. In the north of the Netherlands, public transport was shut down, schools closed early and all that. We've had storms like that before, and the reaction was similar, not much special there.
What was special is that the north-west storm coincided with a springtide. The resulting high water got to just under 4 meters higher than normal -- the highest that had been recorded since 1953.

1953 is a special year for the Dutch. It is the year of the Watersnoodramp. The circumstances were the same: springtide with a north-west storm. The dykes that protected large parts of the south-west of the Netherlands failed and over 1800 people drowned. Many more were displaced, with lots of drowned (farm-)animals and property damage. (The storm also caused deaths in the UK and Belgium, but on a smaller scale.)
Upto that point, the system was "everyone their dyke", but it only takes one lazy farmer who underestimates the dangers to innundate a whole polder. After the flood, it was decided that we didn't want any of that ever again, and the huge Delta Works project was set up to protect the Netherlands from these kinds of floods. The project was so large that the last part was only realised in 1997.

So, yesterday evening we had a storm of the same size as 1953 -- sixty years on. The protocols worked: the locks and movable dams were closed, and all that happened was that part of a road on a dyke collapsed without compromising the integrity of the dyke. It resulted in a tiny article in the newspaper, not in a national disaster.
Nobody seemed to pay it much attention, but to me that says we did something very well.
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Ships passing in the night
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From:cissa
Date:December 6th, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
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Wow. I didn't know about any of that, and it's fascinating!
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From:fub
Date:December 7th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
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When we get visitors from abroad, we try to take them to Neeltje Jans, the artificial island that was built to support the building of the biggest project of the Delta Works, the Oosterschelde Stormvloedkering. Not only can you walk around in the dam, but there's also a large museum that shows the situation in 1953 and how the Delta Works were built.
(Spoiler: we had to invent a lot of technology to build what we needed to build. Some of the machines are... very impressive.)
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From:luna_puella
Date:December 7th, 2013 07:59 am (UTC)
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I think you mean sixty years on though...
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From:fub
Date:December 7th, 2013 07:49 pm (UTC)
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You know, you're right. And when you're right, you're right! And you, you're always right!

Edited! :)
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