North Sea Protection Works

n 1953, the North Sea Flood, killed 1,835 people and forced 70,000 more to evacuate. On top of this, the floods drowned 10,000 animals and destroyed 4,500 buildings. The Flood occurred due to a breaking of the dikes and seawalls in Netherlands.

To ensure that history did not repeat itself, an ambitious flood defense system was conceived and deployed. This project is better known as the North Sea Protection Works. It is also called Delta Works. It was formulated to the Netherlands, one third of which is below sea-level.

Dunes along the entire seashore were raised by as much as 5 metres, while the islands in Zeeland province were joined together by dams and other large scale constructions to help shorten the coastline. The most sophisticated and famous of these dams is the Oosterscheldekering, which can be opened and closed to keep the sea at bay, preserving the saltwater river delta at the same time, for wildlife and the fishing industry.

Less known, but no less impressive, is the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier near the port of Rotterdam. This unique, vast and complex system of dams, floodgates, storm surge barriers and other engineered works of the North Sea Protection Works literally allow the Netherlands to exist.

The North Sea Protection Works consists of two monumental steps that the Dutch took to hold back the sea. Step One was a 19-mile-long enclosure dam built between 1927 and 1932. The immense dike, 100 yards thick at the waterline, collars the neck of the estuary once known as the Zuiderzee.

Step Two was the North Sea Protection Works project or the Delta Project constructed to control the treacherous area where the mouths of the Meuse and Rhine Rivers break into a delta.

The final move was the Eastern Schelde Barrier, a two-mile barrier of tell gates slung between massive concrete piers. The gates fall only when storm-waters threaten. The North Sea Protection Works in a visible proof of man’s indomitable spirit.

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