Monday, November 17, 2008

Preparing for the worst

And thinking the unthinkable. Wow. A government that is proactive not reactive. Sounds like a meeting where FEMA should go and take notes:
The Netherlands' emergency preparedness personnel spent all of last week conducting an exercise dubbed "Ergst Denkbare Overstroming (EDO)," or worst possible flooding, a scenario in which they virtually placed one-third of the country underwater. In the computer models, the entire west and north coasts, as well as low-lying areas in the large Rhine River delta where two-thirds of the country's 17 million people live were submerged.
The Dutch have been through a horrible flood before where 1800 people lost their lives. And they haven't forgotten this lesson. What have the Bush administration and FEMA learned since Katrina and Ike? Don't bother answering that.

The article continues:
The flood became deeply embedded in the collective memory of the Dutch. The vulnerability of this prosperous nation, much of it located below sea level, depends on the technical skills of its hydraulic engineers, and their expertise will be in even greater demand in the future. "Back then the flood was two-and-a-half meters high," says Lucien van Hove, "today we assume it could be above five meters." Van Hove, the coordinator of the giant storm barriers in the delta region around Rotterdam, is standing on the first line of defense against the great storm surge, the barrier gates in the Hollandse Ijssel, a branch of the Rhine delta. Each of two enormous steel gates is 81 meters (265 feet) wide and almost 12 meters (39 feet) high. At this moment in the simulation, they are virtually closed.

The storm barrier is designed to withstand a 70-centimeter (2.3-foot) rise in sea level. But two months ago a commission concluded that a rise of 1.30 meters (4.3 feet) could be expected by the year 2100. "We must now invest a part of our gross national product each year so that we can keep our feet dry in the future," warns van Hove. New storm barriers are needed, he says, and the dikes must be raised and, more importantly, widened. In addition to the problems posed by climate change, the land is sinking by two centimeters (three-quarters of an inch) each year, for tectonic reasons and because the subsoil, which contains peat and clay, is drying out.

Because the Netherlands is sinking more and more each year, its people must begin to think differently, says van Hove. For decades, the Dutch resisted the water during floods. In the future, however, they will have to be willing to flood entire sections of the country when such disasters occur, van Hove adds. "There will simply be too much water pressure."

I hope every Dutch house has an inflatable raft, flotation vests, and a GPS locator. Because, you know, disasters happen whether you ignore the warnings or not.

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(actual quote)

You have been a walking disaster yourself, Georgie. You don't just visit disaster areas, you know. You're supposed to actually DO something about it. That's what we hired you to do.

4 comments:

Terrible flood said...

see also: www.safecoast.org!

ellroon said...

Thank you for the comment and the link!

Steve Bates said...

GeeDubya is happy with any kind of flood preparation, as long as he doesn't have to stick his finger in a dyke...

ellroon said...

I really doubt she'd agree to such an action anyway.