Extent of flooding in the Netherlands
The 1953 North Sea flood was a major flood caused by a heavy storm that occurred on the night of Saturday, 31 January 1953 and morning of Sunday, 1 February 1953. The severe north-westerly storm pushed the waters of the North Sea up high into the English Channel.
Even before springtide had reached its highest point, the dikes broke in the southwest of The Netherlands.
Large parts of South Holland, Zeeland and North Brabant were inundated. There were 1,836 deaths recorded and widespread property damage. 865 or almost half of the casualties occurred in the province of Zeeland, 677 in the province of South Holland, 247 in Brabant, and 7 in North Holland.
Afterward, The Netherlands developed the Delta Works, an extensive system of dams and storm surge barriers.
Colijnsplaat, Zeeland bridge
Watersnood museum, Ouwerkerk
The Delta Works is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea.
The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees, and storm surge barriers. The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised.
After the North Sea flood of 1953, a Delta Works Commission was installed to research the causes and develop measures to prevent such disasters in future. They revised some of the old plans and came up with the "Deltaplan".
The first construction that was completed was the Hollandsche IJsselkering in 1958. The original Deltaplan was completed in 1997 with the Maeslantkering and the Hartelkering.
During the North Sea flood of 1953, a dike along the IJssel began to collapse. In desperation, the mayor of Nieuwerkerk ordered the owner of a river ship to plug the hole in the dike by navigating the ship into it. The mayor's plan was successful, as the ship was lodged firmly into the dike, reinforcing it against failure and saving many lives. In 1954 construction started on a storm surge barrier in the IJssel, the first installation of the Delta Works. In 1958 it was completed.
Monument near Nieuwerkerk