Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Great Flood

Sixty years ago tonight, the North Sea Flood (or Dutch Watersnoodramp, which literally translates as 'flood disaster') occurred. A combination of extreme events conspired to send tidal surge racing down the East Coast and wreaked particular havoc in the low lying areas of Lincolnshire and Norfolk where the sea encroached up to two miles inland. In the UK over 300 lost their lives; in The Netherlands, almost 2000 people died.

In all the events, services, broadcasts and features taking place today the numbers, measuring the scale of the disaster, seem to have taken on a greater significance when set alongside the personal testimonies of the survivors. Thanks to BBC Lincolnshire's Scott Dalton for these figures and to William Wright for some memorable personal testimonies today:

Forty-two. The number
Numbered with the living
on this night, sixty years ago.

Forty-two whose number
Came up on that evening;
Forty-two falling victim
to the numbers:

Three, extremes of weather;
Twenty, feet of water;
Two, miles inland flooded;
Twenty thousand, houses ruined.

On the coast today
A sunken century's bell tolls
for their number:

One, Anderby;
Trusthorpe - two;

Four, Saltfleet;
Mablethorpe - eight;

Sutton-on-Sea - eleven;
Ingoldmells, sixteen.

The forty-two.
Make them to be numbered
With Thy Saints, O Lord -
Poseidon, Neptune.

And pray that it should never come again.