Jul 22, 2019

Dutch Storm Water Management May Help Mitigate Hurricane Damage

The Netherlands allocates more than a billion dollars to manage flood infrastructure each year

The Netherlands allocates more than a billion dollars to manage flood infrastructure each year

A water expert from the Netherlands suggested how the U.S. can better manage flooding from storm events. According to CBS News, the world’s water ambassador Henry Ovink said Dutch storm water management methods could help decrease the damage of major storm events in the U.S.

The role of water ambassador was given to Henry Ovink by the Dutch government. Ovnik advises the United Nations, 35 countries, and a dozen U.S. cities, according to CBS News. He is constantly traveling, and recently visited Houston, Texas, which is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey

Ovnik said we cannot prevent storm events from happening but we can help decrease the storm’s impact by preparing better. According to CBS News, the Netherlands allocates more than 1 billion dollars to manage flood infrastructure each year. This includes the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier on the Nieuwe Waterweg in South Holland.

“There's only one opportunity. That is when a disaster hits,” Ovink told CBS News. “It's like a X-ray. It tells you where all your vulnerabilities are and gives you the opportunity to step up and say, ‘We can do better.’"

In Ovnik’s hometown of Rotterdam, almost all of the city is below sea level. Ovnik said it does not flood because of the precautions taken every year by the Dutch. 

“$150 billion were lost in New Orleans,” Ovnik told CBS News. “I don't think I need to say more. How many people were killed? Sandy, another storm, $70 billion. We don't have those damages.”

The last time a moment such as Hurricane Katrina happened in the Netherlands was in 1953, he said. A huge storm came in from over the North Sea from the west.

“It actually swallowed the southwestern part of the Netherlands,” Ovnik said. “The dams, dikes and levees broke and the water flowed in, taking away lives of almost 2,000 people. A lot of families were ripped apart.”

Since then, the Dutch have not had a death from flooding in 66 years.