Fighting the Tide: Possibility of floating homes
Floating houses. A parking garage that doubles as a rainwater storage tank. They may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but they are the reality in the Netherlands and experts say they may be needed elsewhere as rising sea levels are overwhelming buildings and homes. Josh Robin has more.
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NETHERLANDS -- All Daniela Hannema wanted was more space. Her new home comes with an added benefit: Protection against floods.
Hannema said, "Water always goes top down, you know. This county is all down."
In the Netherlands, floating homes are part of a vast arsenal against water disasters. Huge sea gates may be the most famous.
There are lesser-known measures, too: Raising levees, lengthening beaches, enacting housing codes and building these so-called water villas.
"We Dutch are very used to water."
And if you can stomach getting a bit seasick, the home offers not just safety, but tranquility, on a lake minutes to downtown. Its rent: $2,400 monthly .
Some in the U.S. may consider it alarmist. Experts say we should be more aware after Hurricane Sandy.
"You see the trends around the world and there are two main trends. One is sea level rise and increased storm frequency because of climate change. And secondly, we have the trend that more and more people are moving to cities and coastal areas. Why? Because they are attractive areas," said Jeroen Aerts of the University of Amsterdam.
And attractive is how the Dutch want to keep it, finding beauty in flood control.
In Amsterdam, there's living on the water. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, they're working on it too. Like at Rotterdam's floating pavilion event space: Half spheres built with a buoyant base and internal systems for heating, cooling and handling sewage.
"It's actually very, very stable. Compared to the houseboats, which can be a bit wobbly, this is much more pleasant," said Bart Roeffen, a floating pavilion architect.
There are even plans for a floating neighborhood, bobbing in Rotterdam's former harbor. Elsewhere there, a parking garage doubles as a three million gallon water tank. Officials say it helps prevent sewage overflow during increasingly heavy rain falls.
Arnoud Molenaar, manager of Rotterdam's Climate Proof Program, sees in it a message for other cities.
"You have to start to adapt now. Because climate change is not something that's only going to happen in the future, it is already there,” said Molenaar.
Who knows? A home like Hannema's could one day float along the Hudson.