Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Some Boring Information About the Netherlands To Prove I Am Right

For my Anonymous "friend" who posted that the hurricane in New Orleans was not related at all to what they have developed in the Netherlands and that I needed to get away from CNN, perhaps you need to read a tad bit more and stop talking out of your ass. My point was that they are on similar types of land (below sea level) and were prone to flooding, not that they both are threatened with hurricanes (duh).

And, because its my blog and I hate anonymous commenters who "snark and run", I have decided to dedicate today's post to the Netherlands and how I was right in my post from Saturday. You can blame my anonymous "friend" for the long and boring-ness of this post.
--------------
This is what happened in the Netherlands back in 1953 and how the US responded to their disaster. Completely opposite of how we responded to our own disaster.
From The Star-Ledger of Monday, 9/5/2005 by Mark Mueller:
Similar disaster, but a different ending: When flood ravaged Netherlands, response was unified and swift
From his home in the southern reaches of the Netherlands, Toon Franken has watched the televised images of New Orleans with growing astonishment. The scenes make him "shiver," he said. But it is not the scale of devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina that so troubles the 50-year-old Dutchman. It is that for nearly a week after the storm surge swallowed much of the city, so many people remained trapped there, desperate for water, food and escape.

"How is it possible in a civilized country that help is coming so late?" Franken asked in a telephone interview this weekend. "It's incredible."

While criticism of the U.S. government's response to Katrina has grown by the day, Franken brings a rare perspective to the debate. He is curator of the Zeeland Archives, the historical record of the Dutch province devastated in 1953 by the North Sea Flood, known in Holland simply as "the disaster."

More than 1,800 people died in the flood, a gale-driven wall of water that struck without warning in the early morning hours of Feb. 1, 1953, overwhelming centuries-old levees and inundating 625 square miles of land. Not since the Middle Ages -- more than 500 years earlier -- had the low-lying Netherlands been so ravaged by the sea.

Franken has studied every facet of the flood, including the Herculean effort to rescue and evacuate tens of thousands of people. The contrast with the response in New Orleans, he said, is jolting.

"It was a national disaster, and therefore there was a national movement to help," Franken said. "Everybody stood as one."

Historical accounts and extensive coverage of the disaster in the archives of the New York Times confirm Franken's view. Hours after the raging North Sea caused dozens of levees to give way in the southern provinces, primarily Zeeland, the Dutch government dispatched troops, vehicles and boats to the region. From low-flying planes, air crews searched for signs of life, dropping inflatable rubber dinghies wherever they spotted movement.

Queen Juliana, accompanied by her 15-year-old daughter, Princess Beatrix, donned hip waders and toured parts of the region before night fell. The government implored anyone with a truck or a bus to head south, toward the flood zone, to aid in the evacuation. By Feb. 2, hundreds of boats, from the queen's yacht to small fishing vessels, were rescuing people from southern islands and the flooded mainland. Helicopters sent from England, which also suffered heavy damage, plucked survivors from trees, rooftops and lampposts.

The commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Manton S. Eddy, surveyed the damage by air and promised a swift American response. By nightfall on Feb. 2, some 36 hours after the levees broke, U.S. amphibious vehicles were on the ground, shipped in from neighboring West Germany. A detachment of American medical personnel soon followed. The number of boats involved in the rescue climbed to 2,000 the following day. From the air, dozens of helicopters, now mostly American, rescued hundreds more people, ferrying them to staging areas from which they were taken by bus or boat to the north.

There they took shelter in sports arenas and exhibition halls. As in New Orleans, the refugees were forced to deal with crowded conditions. But unlike the fetid Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center, the shelters in Holland were well away from the flood zone, with working electricity and ample supplies of food and water.

Battling snow, sleet and cold, the multinational rescue force evacuated or rescued more than 50,000 people within five days, a figure that would grow to 70,000 by week's end. Damage to the area was enormous. In addition to the 1,836 men, women and children killed, the waters claimed 10,000 animals and destroyed some 4,500 buildings. The flooded region was not fully reinhabited for more than a year.

Certainly New Orleans has presented unique problems. Lawlessness and gunfire have slowed evacuation efforts, and the city's bowl-shaped topography has prevented floodwaters from receding. But Franken, echoing bitter criticism voiced across the political spectrum in the United States, remains baffled by the delay in dispatching troops and by the lack of available food and water.

National Guardsmen arrived in force only on Friday. The first amphibious vehicles arrived the same day.

"The Americans helped Holland so very soon in 1953, and in their own country the help has come so late," Franken said. "We here cannot understand that. It's strange that the United States was not prepared for such a disaster."
---------------
And, perhaps more importantly, after they went through that disaster, they actually did something about it to prevent a similar situation from happening again. They built an intricate dike system where if there is a breach in one of the dikes, it will not flood into the city but into another chamber of the system. Sounds like something we should have done since we went through something similar in 1969 with Hurricane Camille in New Orleans and we knew it would happen again:

The government upgraded its ancient system of dikes and dunes after a powerful storm breached sea dikes in the south of the Netherlands in 1953, killing more than 1,800 people. Today the Netherlands has some of the world's best defenses against flooding, including a chain of 40-foot-tall steel walls suspended by piers in the open sea.

Anti-flood measures will be reviewed in all Dutch regions below sea level in light of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath to ensure they would be adequate in an emergency, the government said Sunday.

All possible weak spots in the dikes -- the tall, uniform embankments that protect the Dutch countryside -- also will be examined, said Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the junior transport and waterworks minister.

She said emphasis will be placed on the populous Amsterdam and Rotterdam regions, which both lie below sea level, De Telegraaf newspaper reported Sunday.

Flood protection in The Netherlands -- a country about twice the size of New Jersey that is mostly below sea level -- is considered among the best in the world.

The government is planning to spend $3.7 billion over the next ten years on new projects against the threat from river floods, in addition to the $620 million spent annually on maintaining the current system in the country.
----------
I added those italics to show how much money they spent on protecting themselves. I wonder how much we have put into our levee system?

37 comments:

tommy said...

As far as the differing response from the military in Holland and here, it's one of those sort of goofy rules, the national guard belongs to the governor (I'll never understand why the governor of Texas needs so many F-16 squadrons). The Federal government can take control of them but it requires some hoops to be jumped through. Federal active duty troops require some requests from the state authorities before they can be sent. All of that is designed to prevent the impression of federally imposed martial law. None of it applies to foreign countries so the troops can just be sent.

Either the state and local people never made the request, or the feds dropped the ball on it. I suspect the request was not made correctly in a timely fashion, but we won't know the real answer to that for some time. In general, the people you need to talk to for answers now are still busy trying to make things work, the ones out yapping and pointing fingers are the last ones you should care about what they are saying since they are probably playing a game of CYA.

The issues of the levees and flooding was decades(maybe centuries) in the making, and no one took it seriously enough to do anything about it.

Sleeping Mommy said...

As tommy pointed out it all comes down to State vs Federal rights as set out by the constitution. Add to that, some bad blood between the LA governor and the President (I've seen it on TV myself, there is clearly no love lost there) and it's a bad situation made worse by lack of communication and SOMEONE along the line not doing their job.

aka_monty said...

I hate it when people dump completely UNinformed comments on you and run...and they have nothing to back themselves up.

Good for you! :)

deputyswife said...

In the legislation last year, a bill was laughingly thrown out. The bill would have given more money to re-secure outdated levees in the New Orleans area. Even though it is a major port, evidently some of our legislators did not think to give money for proventitive maintence.

Laughingly thrown out. America, does this at least redefine how we are going to vote next time?

TrueJerseyGirl said...

I completely agree that the ball was dropped on many, many levels. However, with that said, just because the governor is a complete idiot and didn't know she had to request assistance (or didn't know how, or some other ridiculous excuse) - does that mean the federal government should just sit and watch a city and its people dying because the right forms weren't handed in? It was declared a FEDERAL state of emergency on Saturday, before Katrina even hit. That was so that federal resources could be used. And they should have been.

The net of blame will be very, very widely cast in this case, and rightfully so. It has been a disgrace.

soapbox.SUPERSTAR said...

I hate those commenters too, but I hate even more that you have to do a damn research project to prove your point.

I am the same way girl - I WILL NOT BE WRONG!!!

JoiseyGirl said...

Very good post and a very good way of dealing with the jackass comment. Don't they feel like such cowards for leaving anonymous stupid comments?

Anyway, I knew that the Netherlands was below sea level and had built dykes to help deter any fooding, but I learned more from this post. Thanks!

trinamick said...

Don't you just love it when you can prove you're right? It's what gets me through a day! :P

I think it's just sickening that they make all the excuses in the world for the slow response. The fact remains that people are dying, no matter whose fault it is. Get them help and get them out! Instead, of flying over and surveying the damage, how about getting down there and helping the people like Bill Fitch did? Or perhaps offering up your jet to help evacuate survivors? Interesting what people's priorities are.

MommaK said...

My husband was actually in the Netherlands last week when this all happened and came home talkng about this very issue. Kudos to you for laying out all of the facts and handling the comment so well. A friend...WTF??

Natsthename said...

You did your research! That anonymous troll bleepwad just wanted to rile you, I think. You did a great job of coming back!

Yay for TRUE JERSEY GIRL!!!

(and did you know there's a new Bon Jovi coming out soon?)

Better Safe Than Sorry said...

how on earth did you even know about the netherlands?????

Average White Guy said...

I too hate the anonymous--great job of making your point!

Better Safe Than Sorry said...

i actually came back to read all of this (with my youngest)because i can't believe how much time and effort you put into this. maybe you should rethink that hr thing and look into doing research.

Bumbling Bav said...

Wow... you my friend have just got yourself a vote for government!

True Jersey Girl for Prez!

and if you can't win there, come on up here... I want to be your loudest fan!

Oh ya, my husband is dutch and he knew non of this! LOL.

Indigo said...

I am not an literature professor, nor a history professor, however, I'm giving you an A+ for you essay today. Good work! :-)

Peanutt said...

Great job Jersey! I hope that put "a friend" back in their place!!! And wow, on the research behind this! Good for you!

Redhead Mommy said...

Great job on the research!! Very informative, and just another way that our federal government has shamed me. Good grief. I cannot believe this whole fiasco....
So, people are actually trying to say that the reason New Orleans hasn't been helped is because the proper request wasn't made??? What kind of bullshit is this? And they think this is a legitamate excuse? GRRR. Thank God for term limits.

A Friend said...

The New York Times is leading the shameless Bush and Republican bashing with respect to the response to Hurricane Katrina. One of its themes is that Congress didn't pay enough attention to flood control in the Gulf. But Donald Luskin reminds us of this bit of wisdom from the New York Times editorial page earlier this year. If you've been paying attention -- and I don't know how long you can before you have to find something else to do with all this on television 24/7, but -- there has been talk that the Bush administration was presented with this massive $14 billion plan to upgrade the levees and do a lot of work in the Mississippi Delta. It would have taken ten years, and even if it had been approved, the work would not have been anywhere near ready. It wouldn't have prevented the levees from breaking, but at least somebody would have cared and done something, and everybody's been walking around, "Oh, no, Bush vetoed it or reduced it." He didn't veto it, but the Bush administration cut the funding from $14 billion to $2.3 billion, right? You heard that one? So you heard about this big $14 billion plan that Bush slashed to $2.3 billion? Okay, well, good. If you've heard that, then listen to this. Here's the New York Times editorial page earlier this year:

"Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects -- this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences." Earlier this year the New York Times editorialized against the $2.7 billion program! They called it a boondoggle, because they said it twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences. So they put this plan together. The New York Times had this agency look at it. "Nah, this thing, it will never work. It's a boondoggle, money down the drain, so to speak." They end up saying, "This is a bad piece of legislation." Earlier this year, the New York Times agreed with Bush. In fact, Bush authorized the $2.7 billion and the New York Times was against a penny of it being authorized. But now, after the fact, guess who has forgotten? The New York Times forget what they editorialized earlier this year, and the rest of the sycophants in the media which follow the New York Times apparently don't know this at all, because apparently now Bush is a skinflint for not appropriating the whole $17 billion.


And as far as dumping and running on your blog, I must work so I can make my monthly donation to that Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, ya know! I'll spare you your Xanax meds for the day and not visit again, for I see that you have a link to moveon.org...'nuff said.

I found your blog while googling and linking... and I will respect your right to rant and rave.

Semper Fi

Average White Guy said...

I hope you don't mind if I link you!

Raehan said...

True,
A very interesting post. Thank you. That gave me some more clarity on this maddening as hell issue. I'm with you on it.

And good for you for sticking up to the Republican bullyiing spin on this. Sometimes spin doesn' win over truth.

Night Flier said...

Interesting Post. I am taking some action to do what I can about Hurricane Katrina here in TN where thousands of Evacuees have come. But aside from that I can't even watch anymore coverage on the issue as it is too upsetting. I am going to do what I can to help the people here.

Check out Cmac's post on Bon Jovi from Tuesday Night...

Twist of Kate said...

I have nothing intelligent to contribute...I just wanted to say hi and let you know I dropped by again...I would never leave an anonymous comment, who knows what other facts you would share with us!!! LOL :)

trine said...

a great post true, i am afraid us over here haven't quite grasped the magnitude of what's been going on. though i read a great srticle today. check it out!

Dawn said...

hahah you lost me at "this is what happened in the netherlands in 195--something" But I understand why you are posting it! :-)

DaFFy said...

Good for you! You tel 'em. Damn annoying anonymousers - they so totally suck!

Danielle said...

i finally had to disable anon comments, people are just a-holes sometimes!!! lol tell em like it is gurl!

Molly said...

I'm impressed that you did all that research and I did not know all of that about the Netherlands. It is quite interesting to see the precautions that CAN be taken instead of just sitting around waiting to see what happens!

InterstellarLass said...

Excellent report True! I agree. Having been to NO several times, the first over 12 years ago, they were talking about fixing levees and flood control and restoring the Mississippi Delta years ago. A topic of conversation perhaps on the local/state level, not nationally, but it's been a need for quite some time.

truthwarp said...

You are abso-fucking-lutely right.

There are some engineers who are concerned that once pressure equalized on both sides of the dikes returns to the lake, subsidance may occur on the N.O. side because of erosion along the levee's base. In other words, the entire dike system could be in jeopardy.

BTW, it sure is fun sticking the word "fuck" randomly in between adjectives.

Anonymous said...

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005 1:41 p.m. EDT
1999 Hurricane Swamped Clinton's FEMA

Democrats led by Sen. Hillary Clinton are blaming the Federal Emergency Management Agency for failing to respond adequately to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

But FEMA didn't do much better under much less taxing conditions, when the floods that followed Hurricane Floyd left tens of thousands stranded up and down the Eastern seaboard, wondering what happened to federal rescuers.

Story Continues Below


New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida were hit hard when Floyd slammed the coast on Sept. 16, 1999. It was the worst storm to hit the U.S. in 25 years - yet it killed only 61 people. That death toll expected to be dwarfed by Katrina.
Clinton FEMA Director James Lee Witt won high marks for hurricane preparation, but the flood that followed swamped his agency.

A full three weeks after the storm had passed, Rev. Jesse Jackson interviewed Witt on his CNN show "Both Sides Now" - and complained that flood victims were still suffering from a "misery index."

"It seemed there was preparation for Hurricane Floyd, but then came Flood Floyd," Jackson began. "Bridges are overwhelmed, levees are overwhelmed, whole town's under water . . . [it's] an awesome scene of tragedy. So there's a great misery index in North Carolina."

Witt explained that the storm's devastation was unparalleled, prompting Jackson to ask what was being done for the thousands of families left homeless by Floyd.

Though nearly a month had passed since the storm first hit, Witt said his agency was just beginning to address the problem.

"We're starting to move the camper trailers in," he explained. "It's been so wet it's been difficult to get things in there, but now it's going to be moving very quickly. And I think you're going to see a -- I think the people there will see a big difference over within this next weekend."

The Clinton FEMA Director came in for more criticism during another CNN interview - this time for failing to do a better job with Hurricane Floyd evacuation efforts.

"I hate to do this to you so early in the morning," host Carol Lin began apologetically.

"But I want to show you some video of Hurricane Floyd. This was the evacuation scene out of Florida last year. And you can recall, some three-million people in three different states were hitting the highways, jammed back-to-back trying to get away from the danger. And much of the local as well as the federal government was criticized for this backup. What is being done this year to prevent something like this from happening again, keeping people out of harm's way?"

Witt explained that evacuation problems were to be expected under such dire conditions. "It was very unusual when you had multiple states all evacuating at the same time," he told CNN. "It was the first time that that has happened that way and it did clog the highways."

While Witt's reputation remained largely intact after the Floyd fiasco, more than a few of the storm's thousands of flood victims complained that the agency had failed them.

"I had heard FEMA was going to be downtown, so I got up early to get down there and get in line," one North Carolina woman told the Associated Press, recounting her ordeal months after Floyd had passed. "The time came and nobody was there, just all these people waiting in line."

FEMA's sorry performance left her overwrought.

"I had been let down so many times, I just lost it," the flood victim said. "A friend of mine came walking up, and I just started toward her. She said, 'Robin, what in the world is wrong?' I was just standing there in the middle of the street crying, totally disoriented, practically hysterical."

Weeks after Floyd's floodwaters subsided, the suffering for many had yet to be addressed.

"We passed hundreds of families sitting outside their now-uninhabitable homes, with their water-soaked possessions spread out on their lawns," the Raleigh's News & Observer noted on Oct. 3, 1999.

"Desperately picking through the mess for anything to salvage, most people - particularly the elderly - seemed to be in a state of shock."

And where was FEMA?

"The larger towns had a visible FEMA and Red Cross presence," the paper said. "But in smaller towns it looked like utter confusion and despair - no one in charge, no one knowing what to do or where to go for help."

Raehan said...

Does anonoymous have his/her own blog?

I'm not saying get a life. I'm just saying, get a blog. That might make it easier to accept blogs with opinions that different than yours.

I'm not saying you can't have an opnion on this. I'm just saying stop harassing True for expressing hers.

If you do have a blog, let us know who you are.

Evey said...

I SO agree, nothing is more irritating. Most people who read blogs have a blog. Drives me nuts when people "speak their minds" when its not asked for and then run off in disguise!

Great post tho True!

Lassa said...

OMG I had no idea about that tragedy in the Netherlands. Mother nature has certainly wreaked havoc upon us, hasn't she?

I wish I were able to do more for those people... How sad it is that our own 'fearless' leader has once again, come up short. Makes me sick to my stomach.

deputyswife said...

Hey, I stopped by to tell you that is a cute picture of Princess over at Patsy's!

Redhead Mommy said...

What the heck is wrong with people? Since when is it okay to leave novels as comments?? Good grief.

As a previous poster said, Get a blog! And then link if you must!!

Stupid anonymous cowards.

Camy Leon said...

Hey. Your girl just got kicked off. I hope you know who! She was the best girl there. I can't wait to hear your opinion on this.

Kathleen said...

I found this post very interesting and am very impressed with the research involved.

And I think we all just blipped over the ultra-long Bush is God comments. ;-)