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Saturday, 7 February 2015

North Sea Floods 1953 - Case Study

North Sea flood of 1953

(By Tom.H - U6th)

Physical causes:
·         A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 metres (18.4 ft.) above mean sea level in some locations.
·          The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. 
·         The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft.) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences

Human Causes:
·         At the time of the flood, none of the local radio stations broadcast at night, and many of the smaller weather stations operated only during the day. As a result, the warnings of the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) did not penetrate the flood-threatened area in time
·         People were unable to prepare for the impending flood. As the disaster struck on a Saturday night, many offices in the disaster area were unstaffed.

·         The ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfast with 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank.
·        47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage is estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.

·          1,836 deaths in the Netherlands and the emergency evacuation of 70,000 more, Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland
·        In England, 307 people were killed in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. 19 were killed in Scotland.
·        28 were killed in West Flanders, Belgium.
·       The ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfast with 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank.
·       One of the most devastating natural disasters ever recorded in the United Kingdom. Over 1,600 km of coastline was damaged, and sea walls were breached, inundating 1,000 km². Flooding forced 30,000 people to be evacuated from their homes, and 24,000 properties were seriously damaged

·          Floods covered 9% of Dutch farmland, and sea water flooded 1,365 km² of land.
·        An estimated 30,000 animals drowned

Long term;
·         Realising that such infrequent events could recur, the Netherlands particularly, and the United Kingdom carried out major studies on strengthening of coastal defences.
·         The Netherlands developed the Delta Works, an extensive system of dams and storm surge barriers.
·         The UK constructed storm surge barriers on the River Thames below London and on the river Hull where it meets the Humber estuary.
·         In the UK the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office Sir Frank Newsam coordinated the immediate efforts to defend homes, save lives and recover after the floods. After the flooding, major investments were made in new sea defences. The Thames Barrier programme was started to secure central London against a future storm surge; the Barrier was officially opened on 8 May 1984.
·        In 2013 a service was held at Chelmsford Cathedral to mark the 60th anniversary of the Great Flood, attended by Anne, Princess Royal. Acts of remembrance were also held in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex

Short term;
·         As telephone and telegraph networks were disrupted by flood damage, within hours amateur radio operators went into the affected areas with their equipment to form a voluntary emergency radio network. These well-organized radio amateurs worked tirelessly, providing radio communications for ten days and nights, and were the only people maintaining contact with the outside world.
·        The U.S. Army sent helicopters from Germany to rescue people from the rooftops. Queen Juliana and Princess Beatrix visited the flooded area only a few days after

·         A large aid program came on apace, supported by the radio. A national donation program was started and there was a large amount of international aid. The Red Cross was overwhelmed and decided to send some of the funds to Third World countries.

1 comment:

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