How to Think Like the Dutch in a Post-Sandy World | Culture Collapse Disorder |

Hurricane SandyCan Henk Ovink sell Americans on a new approach to flooding — letting the water in?


I first met Ovink in Amsterdam last April, as he prepared to set off for Washington to begin his new job as Donovan’s senior adviser. Ovink is a compact man with a shaved head and a bird-of-prey gaze who moves as if he were struggling to keep his wiry energy in check. He was raised in the low-lying, rural, eastern part of the Netherlands, where a glimpse out any window makes apparent the country’s relationship to water.

He was clearly eager for the challenge of persuading a giant country that it needs to live with water and not simply resist it. But he was skeptical about anyone’s ability to effect meaningful change in the United States. He had recently taken an exploratory trip to the Far Rockaways, with a team of American engineers that was rebuilding storm walls damaged by Sandy. “These are the same walls that broke before?” Ovink asked. “Yes!” came the reply. “And what if they break again?” “We’ll rebuild them again...(Click title for more)