Storm surge of 1916


January 26, 2022

The storm surge of 1916, Zuiderzee flood of 1916 or January flood is a flood disaster that occurred in the Netherlands around the Zuiderzee in the night of 13 to 14 January 1916.


The storm surge coincided with a high discharge on the rivers. As a result, the dikes broke in dozens of places and, in addition, in many places there was damage to the internal flow and revetment of the dikes. Several wooden houses in Marken completely fell over. In the province of North Holland, 19 people were killed, while another 32 people died in various shipping disasters at sea. Queen Wilhelmina visited the affected areas.

Breakthroughs and floods

GroningenThe southwestern part of the island of Rottumeroog was flooded. FrieslandBuitenpolders (outer dyke area) near Holwerd and Oldelamer were flooded. Overijssel The dykes turned out to be too low, and the dyke revetment was damaged in many places. Near Zwolle the dike overflowed Kleine Weezenland. A dike overflowed at Zwartsluis. Along the Zwarte Water and the Overijsselse Vecht, dikes overflowed and had to be coffered. The Dronther spillway overflowed for 20 hours and flooded the Overijssel land on the left bank of the IJssel. North of Elburg a hole was made in the dike, although it did not completely break through. East of Nijkerk a breakthrough arose. West of Nijkerk were two breakthroughs of approximately 140 m each and two more holes of 75 m and 90 m wide.Utrecht Several holes were dug in dikes in Utrecht as well. The land behind Spakenburg, Bunschoten and Zeldert up to Amersfoort was flooded.North Holland Extremely high water along the Zuiderzee before the disaster due to persistent northwesterly winds. Days of rain had also weakened the - poorly maintained - dikes. In the morning of 14 January 1916, a northerly veering wind pushed the water over the Waterlandse Zeedijk, which broke at Katwoude. As a result, practically the entire Waterland region was flooded. The dikes also broke at Uitdam and Durgerdam. The water had free rein between Zaandam, Purmerend and Edam up to the IJ near Amsterdam-North. The various polder and ring dikes also largely disappeared under water. The Purmer and Wijdewormer remained dry, as did the dikes along IJ and Zuiderzee. The low was reached on the night of February 22-23 with a northeastern snow storm. Two men drowned on February 18 in the Buikslotermeer when they could no longer hold on to a telephone pole. Among the refugees in the church of Buiksloot, a four-year-old girl slipped into the water and drowned. In addition, livestock, (domestic) animals and goods disappeared in the waves. The island of Marken with its low quays was also flooded. Here were 16 fatalities. The Amsteldijk also broke at Anna Paulownapolder. Two people lost their lives here. South HollandRotterdam, Slikkerveer, Ridderkerk, Maassluis and Dordrecht were flooded because the rivers could no longer dispose of their water due to the high water level at sea. At Oostvoorne, six meters of coast were swept away. The Biesbosch was largely submerged. There was also a breakthrough at Lage Zwaluwe, which resulted in a polder being submerged. The water in the lower rivers reached the crown in various places and even over the crown at the Krimpenerwaard.


Journalist Minne van der Staal visited the affected villages of Marken, Bunschoten and Spakenburg a few days after the disaster. Later that year, on behalf of the Flood Committee, he wrote the book January flood.Mr. G. Vissering, president of De Nederlandsche Bank, wrote in Algemeen Handelsblad that the Netherlands had to implement the Lely Plan to close off the Zuiderzee. The Zuiderzee Association organized an exhibition about this in Amsterdam. ir. Lely submitted his final design on September 9, 1916. This disaster in combination with the food shortage during the First World War

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