On this date 65 years ago, February 1st 1953, the Netherlands experienced its greatest flood till date, the North Sea Flood of 1953. This is still one of the biggest disasters the Netherlands has ever experienced, with thousands of casualties and lots of people who lost their homes.
The Netherlands earns its name from the fact that large parts of the country lie below sea level. To make sure our country doesn’t flood, we have built lots of barriers, dams and dykes to keep the water out, and we want to prevent anything like the flood of 1953 from happening ever again.
In the beginning of this year, several of these barriers and dams were put to the test when a heavy storm reached the Netherlands which resulted in very high water levels. Our five biggest dams and barriers needed to be closed at the same time, a first since their construction. We can ask ourselves the question whether this will happen more often now that sea levels are rising due to global warming 1. A higher base line sea level increases the chance for even higher water levels when it storms. To get an idea what areas would be affected the most by a possible flood, we have created a visualisation project that shows the height of the Netherlands in comparison to the sea level.