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Protecting the Coast

Can the “masters of the flood” help Texas protect its coast from hurricanes?

After centuries of fighting back water in a low-lying nation, the Dutch have become the world leaders in flood control. And their expertise is helping Texas design what would become the nation’s most ambitious — and expensive — coastal barrier.

The Maeslantkering, the fifth and last storm surge barrier to be built in the Netherlands, guards the Port of Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Texas General Land Office are looking to the Maeslant for inspiration as they fine-tune a hurricane protection plan for the Houston-Galveston region.

Protecting the Coast

A plan to guard the Texas coast from hurricanes has been years in the making. Will it ever become reality?

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The dunes near the Langevelderslag beach in Noordwijk are 65-feet high, more than a mile wide and can protect against a 10,000-year storm. They are natural, formed as long as 5,000 yours ago, but maintained by Dutch water agencies.
Refinery complexes along the Houston Ship Channel on September 7, 2016.

A ticking clock

The Theater District in downtown Houston is flooded by water from Buffalo Bayou after it jumped its banks on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2017.
Mina Verton holds up a photo of her family's farm house, which was swept away in the 1953 North Sea flood.

The Disaster

Mina Verton looks through a scrapbook of family photos at her home in Zierikzee.
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Clogs, canals and windmills

“God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands”


The 33-year-old Eastern Scheldt Barrier, made up of 65 giant pillars separated by vertical gates, is the largest of the Delta Works projects. It was designed to withstand a flood that occurs once every 4,000 years.
The Maeslantkering's mammoth gates remain open in normal weather conditions. When supercomputers detect a significant rise in sea levels, they swing shut automatically on ball-and-socket joints.

The Ike Dike


The century’s largest engineering project

Graduate students from A&M, Rice and Jackson State universities get a tour of the Maeslantkering.

“Not just for fun”

Harold van Waveren, principal flood safety expert at Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands' equivalent of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Stronger than God?

Is it enough?

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Environment State government Hurricanes