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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    • "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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