1953 floods
February 2, 2003 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Delta 2003 Yesterday the 1953 floods were commemorated in the Netherlands and a day earlier in the UK. What happened in 1953?
posted by ginz (5 comments total)
I watched a video several years ago that detailed the massive engineering feat that was the Eastern Scheldt.

The Dutch are absolute masters of controlling water. Given that such a large percentage of their land lies below sea level, they have little choice.

Nederland beslist de zee!
posted by bwg at 5:54 AM on February 2, 2003

The Dutch need to channel some serious money into educating the US public about Global Warming to counter Exxon-Mobil's PR outlay (poo-pooing the threat) and so ennable worldwide action.

The oceans are rising, and those dikes will only hold for so long, especially in the event of a Global Warming associated "surprise". When venturing into the unknown, as with the Franklin Expedition or the US Space Shuttle, "surprises" will happen, and they can be very nasty indeed.
posted by troutfishing at 7:17 AM on February 2, 2003

True, trout, however...

Last week, a survey amongst the Zeeuwen (roughly, the people now living in the area affected in '53) noted that the majority thought a similar disaster will happen again - because of global warming. Interestingly, the mood seemed to be one dismissing it as inevitable; it was noted in the media (the survey was the opening news item on radio 1 news all afternoon), but it got no follow up. Zilch.

You'd think that of all people, the Dutch would be a big lobbying party against global warming. Maybe they are behind the scenes, possibly via the EU, but we don't know. There is widespread anger about the axing of Kyoto over here, but it is a pessimistic anger. A sense of giving up seems to prevail.

The agency governing the water defences issued a report a few years ago, concluding that if sea levels would rise truly severely (a couple of meters, iirc - can't find the report now), they would not be able to keep up; however, long before that time, coastal regions in less affluent areas (especially Bangladesh) would be long gone, and it would be better to concentrate on that. Which is the sad truth: the Delta Works cost an incredible amount of money (no figures at hand, but it was billions, at a time when a million still was a considerable sum in budgets).

I think it might have been a move by the agency to enter the foreign aid market, engineering a Bangladesh Delta Works - but I think I may get too cynical now.
posted by esha at 10:00 AM on February 2, 2003

ginz, thanks for this interesting collection of links - I wasn't aware of this event. Here's an interesting family account of events and this is an account from Radio Netherlands that also has an excellent half hour audio documentary called Zeeland 53 with very dramatic personal accounts and on the spot reporting from an era when radio and not video reporting brought us our news.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:07 AM on February 2, 2003

madamJujujive - I dread your links. My heart is heavy...

I think of Anais Nin, writing about Paris just before the War, just before all was swept away...

esha - Why, why, why?

they've lost conviction, haven't they! *slams fist on table, furiously thumbs though King James Bible for suitable scathing quotation, finds none, turns to modern poetry compilation... *

"The best shall lack all conviction while the worst shall be filled with passionate intensity......" (W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming")

Somebody grant the Netherlands a little optimism, a little RAGE........

rage, rage, against the dying of the light!...
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 PM on February 2, 2003

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