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June 14, 2017

North Sea Flood of 1962: The Biggest Catastrophe Since World War II in Germany

The North Sea flood of 1962 was a natural disaster affecting mainly the coastal regions of Germany and in particular the city of Hamburg in the night from 16 February to 17 February 1962. In total, the homes of about 60,000 people were destroyed, and the death toll amounted to 315 in Hamburg.

In addition, three people were killed in the United Kingdom by high winds, which damaged around 175,000 houses in the worst affected city, Sheffield.

The flood was caused by the Vincinette low-pressure system, approaching the German Bight from the southern Polar Sea. A European windstorm with peak wind speeds of 200 km/h pushed water into the German Bight, leading to a water surge the dykes could not withstand. Breaches along the coast and the rivers Elbe and Weser led to widespread flooding of huge areas. In Hamburg, on the river Elbe, but a full 100 km away from the coast, the residential areas of Wilhelmsburg was most affected.

120 square kilometres or a sixth of the city of Hamburg were flooded, destroying 6000 buildings. Streets were unusable and railway operation was suspended, leaving Hamburg unsupplied for an indetermined period of time.

These photos will show you a small part of this terrible disaster.


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