Veere is a gorgeous little village on one of the islands of Zeeland, close to the Belgian border. Very, very picturesque, with lovely gardens and cute lanes lined with neat houses.
In the afternoon we were taken to see the Delta Works, the huge storm surge barriers built to protect Zeeland from North Sea flooding. The project was initiated in 1953, after the severest flooding in the country’s history cost many lives, as well as homes and livelihoods. Very clever, those Clogs. The machinery they needed to build the barrier hadn’t been invented in 1954, so they invented it. They also took special note of the region’s ecology. If they had built a dam, the fresh water from the Scheldt River and the salt water from the North Sea would not have mixed. The fresh water area would have stagnated and died, affecting fish, seals, and migratory birds.
So they built a barrier which would only be closed when conditions were dangerous. Storm gates were suspended between pillars above the waterline, allowing the estuaries to function normally. We were told that a combination of a very high tide and wind from a certain quarter would lead to the barriers being lowered. Since the project was completed in the 1980s they have only been dropped twenty-six times.
We were shown a short film which explains why the project was undertaken, and some of the massive machinery built to create the barrier. Then we went through the works themselves where we saw what the machinery had created. There’s also an audio-visual presentation that gives visitors an idea of the fury of that 1953 storm. But the barriers are controlled using hydraulics, which is old tech and will become increasingly difficult to maintain. It will be interesting to watch future developments. If you’re at all interested in engineering have a look at the links I’ve posted and search for some more material. I found it absolutely fascinating.
In the evening, instead of eating dinner on the ship we were taken to one of three local restaurants to sample the local fare. We had fish soup and cod wrapped in bacon with a lobster sauce. Very nice, and fun talking to some new people we hadn’t met before.