The low-lying area around the small town of Højer is prone to flooding during the winter storms – this has been the case for centuries and the locals have been construction dikes in this area since the 14th century. This construction of dikes in this area at that time was a response to a devastating flooding in 1362 which killed thousands of people in the area and created several new islands of which several still exist today.
The first dikes constructed did prevent some of the storms but not surprisingly they were not sufficient during the most devastating storms during the following centuries – most notable was the storm of 1634 which once again killed thousands of people of the region and destroying several towns completely. With each of the storms the dikes were expanded and new dikes were created. The last time the dike in front of Højer was just about to break during a storm was the storm of January 1976 – during this storm it was feared the dike would collapse and flood the low-lying area behind the dike. Thousands of people were evacuated the dike didn’t collapse so no houses were actually flooded – but the experience put the quality of the old dike in question. It was decided something had to be done so the area would be at threat during coming storms.
A new dike was built to better protect the area. The dike goes from Germany and up to the first place in Denmark where there is actually some high land along the coast. Instead of increasing the old dike it was decide to build a new dike in front of the old dike and this one is much stronger than the old one with a height of 8 meters above normal water level.
The dike was constructed from 1979 to 1981 and it was ready for one of the worst storms in recent years in the fall of 1981. The storm came during high tide making the water levels higher than the stronger storm of 1999 which came during low tide. The dike had no troubles with these storms and kept the water out.
You might think the dike was popular in all circles – but this wasn’t the case. The area around the old dike was a unique area because of the tidal waters which at sometimes flooded the land and sometimes left it dry – thousands of birds found their food at this tidal area. Some conservationist protested the dike and demanded the area behind the new dike should be flooded and left dry like it used to with the changing of the tide so the birds could still find food. This was done just after the dike were created but after just a few years some new tidal flats appeared in front of the new dike creating a new area where the birds could find food. The flooding of the land behind the dike was stopped and it was turned into an area for the grassing of sheep’s and cows.
One good place to go and have a look at the dike is at the lock where the waters from Vidåen are allowed to flow into the North Sea during low tide. Here you can go and have a look at the lock and the tidal flats in front of the lock where several birds will be present during low tide. If you go during low tide you are certain to see some birds eating at the tidal flats in front of the lock. Every time we went out there was a bit of birds present enough to entertain for a while – but there will be more during the migration of the spring and fall.