Flood takes goods and lives

Beyond the sadness for the humanitarian catastrophe of hurricane Katrina, it is in blank amazement that we in Europe have looked on the deficiencies of public initiative and relief operations in the mightiest country on earth. Even if we agree that "big government" is out, the primary task of the state is to protect its citizens, to offer safety and to create conditions for the rule of law. In the Low Countries we have some experience with major flooding, and this made me go back to a recent reportage where I witnessed the fast and efficient mass evacuation of 350.000 people - yes, sometimes a bit panicky, but for sure without chaos or looting.


Dutch navy helicopters winch survivors from the roof of their farms in Zeeland, 1953.


Belgian marine soldiers help clearing debris from the streets of Ostend, after a devastating storm surge raged through the city in February 1953.


The seawater in Zeeland had risen so high, that even river barges could moor to pick up survivors from the roof windows.