February 1st, it was 70 years ago since the biggest Dutch natural disaster of the 20th century occurred. 

A heavy North Western storm combined with a spring tide caused a flood of big parts of The Netherlands. On more than 150 places in Zeeland, South-Holland and North-Brabant the dykes broke, because they couldn’t handle the amount of water and had been poorly maintained. Sunday afternoon a second flood wave hit and caused even more victims.

Goeree-Overflakkee is one of the areas that was hit the heaviest as a result of the disaster. Oude-Tonge counts the largest number of victims. Of the in total 1836 victims, 492 died on the island. The livestock were also affected.

“Goeree-Overflakkee is one of the areas that was hit the heaviest as a result of the disaster.”


The municipality of Goeree-Overflakkee asked the artist Robin de Puy, who grew up in Oude-Tonge, to portray inhabitants of the island that experienced the disaster or grew up in the shadow of the trauma their (grand)parents survived.

Maria Barnes wrote down the stories of the people who lived through the disastrous night and the days after.  For some people it was impossible to talk about the disaster for a long time. The word ‘trauma’ didn’t exist yet.

Waters can be read as an evident signal to not look away from climate change and the rapid rising water level. De Puy and Barnas are attempting to present this tragedy, that was often carried in solitude, as something mutual.

Book sale: Hannibal Books

24 x 18,5 cm
144 pagina's + 16 omstekers
Nederlandstalige editie
ISBN 978 94 6466 619 9

Robinde Puy