Wednesday, 31 January 2018

31 January

This day is one for celebration - but at the same also one for commemoration in the Netherlands. The celebrations are for the 80th birthday of (former) Queen Beatrix, who abdicated the throne in 2013 to give way to her eldest son, Willem Alexander. A very private person, Beatrix still mourns the passing of her husband Prince Claus, who died in 2002; as well as the loss of her son Friso, who died in 2013, a year after being severely injured in a skiing accident in Austria. I experienced Beatrix as a slightly distant monarch; her son is by contrast very open, without forgetting about the deference due to him.

Sixty-five years ago today, a violent storm struck the Netherlands. The northwesterly winds combined with a storm surge, which elevated water levels in the southern North Sea. This caused flooding in the Thames Estuary in England, as a result of which 300 people drowned. The flooding in the southwestern Netherlands was catastrophic. Warnings had been issued by the Netherlands Met Office (KNMI), which were broadcast too late in the day (radio broadcasts ceased at 11pm each night, and TV was in its infancy) to reach the authorities in the southwest. Only local people were aware of the dangers, when waterlevels at low tide were at those normally experienced at high tide. The dykes breached, flooding large areas of the provinces of Zeeland, southern South Holland and western North Brabant. More than 1800 people drowned, as well as thousands of heads of lifestock. A major flood prevention scheme, the Delta Works, were initiated, only completed in 1986.

1 comment:

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I appreciate all the history as I've really never known a lot about the Netherlands, but history has always fascinated me.