Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How the Dutch Became Water Architects

NRC: "1953 flood survivors see much wrong with the film version", by Kester Freriks

People who lived through the 1953 North Sea flood were given a special viewing Sunday of The Storm, the first feature-length movie to be made about the disaster. They saw much that was at odds with reality.

A scene from The Storm; the movie was filmed on location in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Many survivors of the 1953 North Sea flood in Zeeland province had no wish to see the premiere of The Storm, director Ben Sombogaart's movie version of the biggest natural disaster in Dutch history. "I didn't want to go through all that again," said one women who was a rescue worker in 1953. "But when I heard that it was movie and not a documentary with real news footage, I decided to go anyway."

On the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953 many dykes in the south of the Netherlands failed to resist the combination of spring tide and a northwesterly storm. The resulting floods put large parts of the provinces South-Holland, Zeeland and North-Brabant under water, killing 1,835 people and forcing the evacuation of 70,000 more. The storm also affected England, Belgium, Denmark and France, and left another 700 people dead there. (...)

Although it has been more than fifty years, the disaster is still very much alive in the southwestern Netherlands. Now that there is talk of returning a piece of reclaimed land, the Hedwige polder, to the sea - to compensate for the environmental damage from dredging the shipping lane to the port of Antwerp - history, cinema and political reality seem to have come together. (...) >>>

Here's the real thing breaking news in 1953:

- Slideshow of the film
- Slideshow of the disaster
- Flood Museum
- site of "Deltaworks", the infrastructure of levees, dams and dikes
- wiki "Deltaworks"

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