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Watersnoodramp | Cycling route the flood on Schouwen-Duiveland

length 38.15 km
theme historical
Kcal 737
Fiets 2 hours 27 minutes
E-bike 1 hours 57 minutes

Burgh-Haamstede, Serooskerke, Renesse

"The water just flowed and flowed past everything and everyone." (Ms Soesters, Burgh-Haamstede. Watersnoodmuseum, The Story)


On 1 February 1953, the Netherlands faces the force of water. KNMI predicts a north-northwest storm with a huge wind force of up to 11 to 12, which could lead to "dangerously high water". Combined with spring tide, which is caused by the full moon two days earlier, the water will have free rein. Despite the warnings on Saturday 31 January, residents are not immediately concerned but are watching the natural spectacle on the coast. Some residents and fishermen do not trust it, as do meteorologists, when the water still has not subsided during low tide. They try to alert the authorities, but they too seem unconcerned.


When the Netherlands hears the eight o'clock news on the radio the next morning, dykes have breached in several places in Zeeland. By now, there are already many casualties and people are being rescued from attics and from trees in rowboats. Telephone lines are down, so it will be hours before the rest of the Netherlands realises exactly what is going on in the western part of the country. A day after the disaster, it is still not clear how many victims there are, as the water keeps flowing.


During this cycle route, you will venture to the edge of the disaster area on the hard-hit island of Schouwen-Duiveland in Zeeland. Much of the island was swept away, except for the Kop van Schouwen. During the rising waters on 1 February 1953, farmers try to herd their cows, sheep and pigs into the dunes here, onto higher land.


You cycle through Burghsluis, in this village the dike breaks on disaster night. From here you now look not over land, but over water towards the church of Haamstede. Further east, the dike at Schelphoek also breached; a ship that broke loose damaged the dike to such an extent that it could no longer hold the force of the water. This is the largest breach on the island, with enormous force the water being forced through the dike opening. From Uitkijktoren Schelphoek you can still see the old dike with the big hole.


The centre of Haamstede is dry and a safe haven for victims, as well as a base for relief operations. Around the village, some treetops and roofs of houses still stick out above the water; Haamstede seems to be in the middle of the sea. Haamstede can only be reached by water, some roads in the village are only passable during low tide. Between the villages is nothing but water, where in the distance sometimes a church tower rises above the water. As far as Zierikzee, everything is flooded; from the breach in the dyke in Burghsluis to the centre of Zierikzee, the water crosses some 14 km of land as the crow flies. Here and there, small parts of villages have remained dry, this is where evacuees are being received.

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length 38.15 km
theme historical
Kcal 737
Fiets 2 hours 27 minutes
E-bike 1 hours 57 minutes

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length 38.15 km
theme historical
Kcal 737
Fiets 2 hours 27 minutes
E-bike 1 hours 57 minutes

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