niedziela, 13 stycznia 2013

How do the Dutch protect themselves from the flood?

We're sitting in my father-in-law's car. He took me and my parents, who were're just visiting us, for a little sightseeing trip. Theoreticaly I'm used to the Dutch people's way of driving on a dikes, but it doen't mean I feel fine or comfortable with it. I'm looking on a backseat, checking how my parents are doing. My mom is holding tightly her bag with one hand and the door of the car with another. My dad seems to be cool, but I can see how he's checking the edge of the road. I guess he's also doesn't feel very comfortable with the idea that the edge of the road is dangerously close to a steep slope of the dike. Did his hair just stand straight? Oh, of course... we're getting close to few curves and my father-in-law doesn't seem like even thinking about slowing down. He barely slows down when he's passing other cars on this narrow road. If I didn't know him, I'd think he's crazy.

For the Dutch dikes are nothing extraordinary (well of course except the fact, they are a reason to be proud of). You can find them almost everywhere, along any river or shore... Along the dikes on the top of them there are normal roads or bicycle-walking lanes. A dike in the Netherlands is something perfectly normal, a typical part of the landscape and... actually really needed. 

Christmas this year was quite warm and rainy. The efects you can still find in few spots
A big part of the dutch territory is laying below sea level, plus there's a very dense network of rivers. There's a huge pressure on finding and improving methods, that would protect the land from floods. Especially after the huge flood from 1953, new projects and researches came to life. I live in Holland for only one year (and few months), but I've already seen few times how important the dikes are. Every longer period of heavy rain (and we really complain on the weather often here), melting snow on spring (or in January/February... sure, why not?) even if we're talking about snow in Germany or France that supplies the waters of Rhine... all of this is increasing the water level.

Basicly we have two types of dikes: the summer one (zomerdijk) and the winter one (winterdijk). As you can guess, the winter one is much higher and is the main barrier from the high water. Between these two, there's a zone called uiterwaard. It's getting often flooded. Uiterwaard can be wide or not, but it's most of the time a kind of meadow, where horses and cows graze. After all what else can you do with a terrain that is regularly under water. 

Zomerdijk separating the river Waal from a recently flooded uiterwaard

That's how a dike is built. Source: wikipedia
In summer and spring it's a really nice place for a stroll: green, quiet, with a river passing by... so idyllic. The dike itself can be very picturesque and an ultradutch part of the landscape. It's perfect for walking, jogging and cycling. When the weather is nice you'll meet there many people doing exactly the same as you do. Enjoying. What surprised me last year during my first mini trip along the dike was that everyone was so friendly and smiling and greeting everyone no matter if you know each other or not. There's only one downside of the dikes... it's always so freaking windy! And sometimes you have to watch out for crazy Dutch drivers ;)

Brak komentarzy:

Prześlij komentarz

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...