Netherlands to hold largest-ever flood drill

15th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The drill, which will involve 12 provinces and 443 municipalities, aims to prepare the country for a flooding disaster.

15 April 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - The Netherlands is to hold its largest-ever disaster drill in November in 2008.

The Waterproef (Water Drill) is aimed at preparing the country to cope with a major flooding disaster.

Throughout The Netherlands, simulations will be carried out to test how the emergency services would cope with disaster scenarios such as breaches in sea dykes in combination with high water levels in rivers. The practice drill will last from 3 to 7 November.

Tens of thousands of members of the emergency services, soldiers and public employees will be taking part, and cabinet ministers are also expected to participate. During the year, a number of smaller drills will be held in preparation for the main exercise.

The drill in November is intended to prepare the population and emergency services in worse case scenarios.

The government initiated plans for the Water Drill in 2006 because of concerns that some regions were not adequately prepared to cope with flood disasters, despite the flooding in 1993 and 1995 when extremely high river-levels led to large-scale evacuations - although no river dykes burst.

The agency in charge of organising this year's drill, Flooding Taskforce Management (TMO), says the exercise will force all the agencies involved in dealing with the consequences of a serious flood to update their planning.

The Taskforce says that at present The Netherlands, about a quarter of which lies below sea level, is not adequately prepared to cope with flooding and many people wouldn't know how to respond.

However, thanks to the major improvements in the country's sea defences over the past fifty years, the risk of flooding itself has not increased.

TMO says the most serious scenario would be a major and unexpected storm at sea, as there would be relatively little warning and too little time for evacuations to take place. High river-levels can be predicted earlier, but river dykes can also become unexpectedly unstable when water levels are low.

In a series of television spots which began on Monday, the authorities are preparing the population with the following message: "Considering climatic developments and the amount of water in the Netherlands, you shouldn’t take it for granted that your feet will stay dry."

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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