Deaths during the 1953 North Sea Storm Surge

Solutions to Coastal Disasters 2005 - Proceedings of the Conference 05/2005; DOI: 10.1061/40774(176)75


From 31 January to 1 February 1953, a North Sea storm surge devastated coastal areas of the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Apart from enormous economic damage and severe societal disruption, over 2,000 people died across the three countries. This paper discusses the available data on loss of life in these three countries and examines the application of these data for loss of life estimations and general flood management practices.

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    • "In the twentieth century, the disasters of coastal flooding in northern Europe were brought to the forefront by the severe North Sea storm of 1953 (Rossiter 1954; McRobie et al. 2005). In southeast England, 307 people were killed and 24,000 people fled their homes (Jonkman and Kelman 2005), while 1,835 lives were lost in the Netherlands (Verlaan et al. 2005). These extreme storms and resulting floods, most notably the 1953 event, led to widespread agreement on the necessity of a coordinated response to understanding the risk of future coastal flooding and to provide protection, where possible, against such events (Coles and Tawn 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: Using newly digitised sea-level data for the ports of Southampton (1935–2005) and Portsmouth (1961–2005) on the south coast of the UK, this study investigates the relationship between the 100 highest sea-level events recorded at the two cities and the incidence of coastal floods in the adjoining Solent region. The main sources of flood data are the daily newspapers The Southern Daily Echo, based in Southampton and The News, based in Portsmouth, supported by a range of local publications and records. The study indicates a strong relationship between the highest measured sea levels and the incidence of coastal floods and highlights the most vulnerable areas to coastal flooding which include parts of Portsmouth, Southampton, Hayling Island, Fareham and Cowes. The most severe flood in the dataset resulted from the storm surge events of 13–17 December 1989 when eight consecutive extreme high waters occurred. The data suggest that while extreme sea-level events are becoming more common, the occurrence of flood events is not increasing. This is attributed to improved flood remediation measures combined with a reduction of storm intensity since the 1980s. However, several recent events of significance were still recorded, particularly 3 November 2005 when Eaststoke on Hayling Island (near Portsmouth) was flooded due to high sea levels combined with energetic swell waves.
    Natural Hazards 12/2011; 59(3). DOI:10.1007/s11069-011-9868-7 · 1.72 Impact Factor
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    • "Deaths were not necessarily caused by drowning. Of the 41 post mortems carried out at Canvey Island, 14 people died of other causes than drowning, such as shock and heart attack (Jonkman and Kelman, 2005). Figure 8 shows the ages of the people that died at Canvey "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper provides a comparison of the causes, effects and aftermaths of the coastal flooding that occurred on the east coast of England in 1953 and the west coast of France in 2010 that resulted in 307 and 47 deaths respectively. The causes of both events are strikingly similar. Both were caused by a combination of high tides, low atmospheric pressure, high winds and the failure of poorly maintained flood defences. In both cases the number of deaths was related to the vulnerability of the buildings and people. Buildings in the flood zones were often single storey bungalows and the people who died were mostly over 60 yr of age. Both tragedies were national disasters. The 1953 flood in England acted as a catalyst for an acceleration in flood risk management policy and practice. It resulted in: the development of a Storm Tide Warning System for the east coast of England; the setting of new design standards for coastal flood defences; increased investment in improving coastal defences; and a substantial new research effort into coastal processes, protection and forecasting. In France there has also been an episodic shift in flood risk management policy with the focus falling on: control of urban developments in areas at risk of flooding; improved coastal forecasting and warning; strengthening of flood defences; and developing a "culture of risk awareness". This paper outlines the lessons that can be learnt from the two events and provides recommendations concerning how future loss of life as a result of coastal flooding can be reduced.
    Natural hazards and earth system sciences 08/2011; 11(8):2321-2333. DOI:10.5194/nhess-11-2321-2011 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The concept of resilience was introduced at the beginning of the 70s to indicate the capability of natural systems to absorb perturbations, preserving their structure and keeping the system functioning. The paper considers London as an example to a resilient city by focusing on some remarkable disasters in the history of London, such as the Great Fire of 1666, the air raids during the World War 2, 18 December 1987 Kings Cross Fire, terrorist attack to tube network on the 7th of July 2005, 1928 flooding and 1953 storm surge. The paper starts by giving short descriptions of these disasters and continues by discussing the lessons learned. In this paper, the concept of resilience has been studied in three phases: prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster. In conclusion, the notable effects of the mentioned disasters on the structural and non-structural tools for disaster prevention have been revealed by considering resilience of London.
    TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment 07/2012; 5(2):147-158. DOI:10.6092/1970-9870/940
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