Recovery of the area afflicted

Nylon sandbags are use to close the opening in the embankment
Closure with sandbags
The flood disaster of 1953 eventually led to the understanding that the condition of the dikes needed to be improved at last. On the 4th of February 1953, Minister Drees announced that the restoration of the dikes would receive the highest priority. A Delta committee was appointed with Mr Maris, director of the Ministry of Waterways and Public Works, as the leader. In August 1953, the Delta committee gave advice for the restoration of which dikes needed to be repaired most urgently: the dike of Schouwen and the moveable storm surge barrier in the Dutch IJssel (Hollandse IJssel).

Meanwhile, volunteers and dike workers worked to close the gaps in the dikes. Within a week, 30,000 volunteers had registered to help repair the dikes. The Ministry of Waterways and Public Works led the restoration works, which was financed by the government.

Difficult start

Floating web of willowbranches. In between stones were layed, after which it would sink to the area where it would provide the foudation or reinforcement of the dike needing strenghening.
Reconstruction Dikes
The restoration work was divided between different parties. In North-Brabant, the regional board of the Ministry of Waterways and Public Works took care of the restoration, together with the Dike Improvement Department. In South-Holland, the largest part of the works was executed by the Provincial Ministry of Waterways and Public Works, whereas in Zeeland the Dike Restoration Department was appointed.
The conflicting opinions of the organisations meant a difficult start. The Dike Restoration Department, for instance, preferred to use caissons to close the gaps in the dikes. Caissons are large concrete blocks, which can stop the flow of water very quickly. Other parties preferred to close the dikes by means of clay and stone. Eventually, it was chosen to build so-called unit caissons: blocks that could be used in many different variations.

Difficult current gaps

With huge effort people try to close the gabs with use of temporary dikes.
Closing gabs
By the beginning of April 1953, the largest part of the disaster area was already dry, but there were still some current gaps that were difficult to repair, such as those near Bath, Kruiningen, Schelphoek, and Ouwerkerk.

The current gap near Bath was closed on the 23rd of April 1953 by means of a vessel, after a method with raising the sand failed because of the strong water currents. Near Kruiningen, three gaps had to be closed: the western gap, the eastern gap, and the gap in the port. After the closure of the inner dikes, the western gap could be closed by means of clay, plunging stone and six uniform caissons. The eastern gap was a more difficult job and was unable to be closed at its original position. Instead, a ring dike had to be built on the land, in which forty caisson elements were used. Consequently, a pontoon with uniform caissons of 33 metres long was used, and the gap was finally closed on the 8th of July 1953. On the 24th of July, the last gap, the gap in the port, was closed and the railway traffic could continue once again.

Water flushes itself a way into the lower areas.
Dike break
On the 18th of August 1953, the largest current gap of the disaster area, near Schelphoek, was closed. Around 125 million cubic metres of water flowed through this gap during the ebb and the flood. As a result, eight canals were created behind the gap. The canals were closed by different types of caissons and the new dike was built.

The closing of the gaps near Ouwerkerk was another difficult job. A summer storm hampered the progress, and for a moment, Ouwerkerk seemed to be lost in the sea. The rates of water flow were high near Ouwerkerk, and it was not possible to fix the heavy caissons in the right position. It can be seen that the caissons were not placed correctly next to each other, nevertheless on the 24th of November the dike was completed.

Basis for the Delta law

Gabs in the dikes were closed as fast as possible with sandbags.
Emergency closure with sandbags
The dike workers were very proud after successfully closing these problematic current gaps. By the end of 1953, the area was officially declared dry again. The dike workers learned a lot from the restoration works. What was learned, for instance, is that caissons need to be able to let through as much water as possible, before they are placed in their correct positions. This way, a strong current will not occur in the last remaining gap and this facilitates the placement of the other caissons. To allow as much water as possible to flow through the caissons, slides were installed into them. The slides could then be closed after the caissons were located in place.

The Delta committee extended the plans for large restoration works. On March the 16th, 1953, the committee gave extensive advice, which would be the basis of the Delta law of May the 8th, 1958.