Time needed to evacuate the Netherlands in the event of large-scale flooding: strategies and consequences


Bas Kolen, HKV Consultants, Botter 11 29, Lelystad, 8232JN, The Netherlands. Telephone:+31 (0) 320 294242; e-mail: kolen@hkv.nl


On 30 May 2008, the Government of the Netherlands informed the national parliament about the effectiveness of preventive evacuation of coastal and river areas in case of flooding. Analysis of a case study showed that it is impossible to evacuate coastal areas preventively within a 48-hour time span preceding a worst credible scenario flood caused by a storm surge. This fact illustrates the need for alternative evacuation strategies, such as vertical evacuation (evacuating to safe havens, inside the flood zone) or shelter-in-place (hiding), to reduce loss of life and the impact of the evacuation. This paper defines these strategies and demonstrates, by returning to the case study used by the Dutch government, that they require different measures, methods of approach, and crisis management processes. In addition, it addresses the need for flexible and scalable preparation so that after detecting and understanding the threat, authorities and citizens can make decisions about different evacuation strategies.