Extent of the flooding on the east coast of England
The scale of the flooding was unprecedented. In England there were 1,200 breaches of sea defenses, 140,000 acres of land were flooded, 32,000 people were evacuated, 24,000 properties were damaged, 46,000 livestock were killed, and 307 people died. In the Netherlands, approximately 100,000 people were evacuated, 340,000 acres were flooded, 47,300 buildings were damaged, 30,000 livestock were killed, and 1,836 lives were lost. In addition, there were 17 deaths in Scotland, 22 in West Flanders, Belgium, and 230 in vessels at sea (including the 133 lost on the Princess Victoria).
A breach at Erith after the North Sea flood of 1953
The catastrophe led to in-depth government reviews of events in both the Netherlands and the UK, resulting in significant improvements in coastal defenses, warning systems, and flood management policy. In the UK, the largest results of this review process were the development of the Storm Tide Warning Service (today part of the National Severe Weather Warning System) and eventually the completion of the Thames Barrier in 1984 to protect London from future surges. In the Netherlands, the Delta Commission’s study into the cause and effect of the floods led to the Delta Works, a series of dams, locks, sluices, levees, and storm surge barriers, including the nine-kilometer Oosterscheldekering dam, that now protect the Netherlands from the threat of coastal flooding.