The Netherlands as the next Atlantis; are you prepared?

The Netherlands is known for its intensive way of managing the water. Without this intensive management with dikes and of course, the ‘deltaworks’, The Netherlands wouldn’t even exist for a big part. 26% of The Netherlands is beneath the sea level and almost 60% of the land is vulnerable or sensitive for floods. But what does this mean for you and me? Does the average Dutch citizen dwell on the fact that they are this vulnerable? And do we know what to do in case of an emergency?

Figure: landkaart Nederland met opverstromingsgevoelig gebied (PBL); 59% van het landoppervlak van Nederland (dus excl. Waddenzee, IJsselmeer en ander open water) is gevoelig/kwetsbaar voor overstromingen
Flooding sensitive area in The Netherlands

To raise the awareness about the existing flooding risks, the government came up with a special website and even launched an application for your smartphone on the testing day of the Maeslantkering in 2014; At this website and application you can find out if you live in a risky area, and how high the water will be if there will be a big flood. For Leiden the chances are pretty small that we will be completely flooded. The centre of the city is surrounded by dikes, but there is still a risk that you get flooded. For example, the station would be flooded with 2 metres of water. But what is the actual chance of a flood? The chances are smaller than 1%, but it could always happen at an unexpected moment, like tomorrow.

The website even gives advice whether you should stay or go. The most likely thing to do is to stay, except of course if you’re city is 4 meters under water. One important reason for this, is that most of the highways in The Netherlands are quite low-lying. But if you’ll stay, you have to be well prepared. There will be no more electricity, no sewer system, no more running water from the tap. This means that everyone in The Netherlands should have some warm blankets, water and food, a radio on batteries, flashlights, candles and a lighter in stock.

If you decide to leave your house and find a safer play to stay, there are several things that you have to keep in mind. First of all, you need to take some basic things like food, water, medication, blankets and of course warm and dry clothes. Take care that you have enough fuel to reach a safe place and make sure you keep your family updated, so they don’t have to worry.


But to be honest, who thinks about the real possibility that The Netherlands will be flooded? Are you prepared if it happens tomorrow? One thing is sure, there are several people and companies that take advantage of the fact that we live a land that lies below the sea level. If your house is in a risky area, you can protect it by applying several protection doors and gates, which you can find among other places here.


3 thoughts on “The Netherlands as the next Atlantis; are you prepared?”

  1. While I do agree the website is a great initiative to raise awareness I doubt it is going to be very useful. Most people in the Netherlands and especially the younger generation don’t even think of the possibility of a flood, so they won’t look for a website such as this one. And when they need the website they probably can’t access it due to the flood. That raises the question how you do raise awareness and whether or not you should spend a lot of money for a seemingly low-risk occurrence, even though it may happen tomorrow.


  2. Great Post Lisette. Thanks for the survival tips, I really did not know all that. I think I am not alone in that, as I found an article of a newspaper that states the Dutch are not well prepared for an emergency:


    I think it is a good idea to raise awareness about this subject and maybe the app mentioned in your article can help with that.


  3. I have to admit, I am definitely not prepared for a flooding. Thank you for making me more aware! Luckily the website of showed me that the chance that my house will flood is less than 1 percent. This is comforting, since no risk will ever be zero. With the extremely elaborate Dutch water managing system, in which the regional water boards even have their own tax system, I dare say I feel very safe. Of course emergency preparedness is never wrong. Maybe a more general risk assessment would be a better fit for the Netherlands? That way we would be able to survive a flooding as well as other emergencies like a power blackout.


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