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?