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In Soggy Netherlands, a Modern Noah Builds His Ark
If there was ever a country that understands floods, it is the Netherlands, where one-quarter of the land is below sea level, and it is here that a modern Noah is constructing an ark.
Dutch building contractor Johan Huibers is close to completing a full-sized replica of the legendary boat in Dordrecht, located on the Maas river.
It all began in 1992, when Huibers dreamt of a flood. "I saw the Netherlands disappearing under an enormous mass of water, comparable with the tsunami in Southeast Asia," he has said. "The next day, I found a book about Noah's Ark in the local bookshop, and since then, my dream has been to build the ark."
Huibers, a Christian evangelist, set out to build a half-sized replica of the ark. Using modern tools, Huibers began in 2005, working six days a week and doing most of the work himself with occasional help from his son after school.
Huibers' first ark was finished in 2007, and he sold it to a friend last year in order to focus on the full-scale replica. He expects his new ship to be ready for visitors by May.
Huibers' home province of North Holland is mostly situated below sea level and the risk of flooding is a sensitive issue in the Netherlands. A catastrophic flood in 1953 killed more than 1,800 people.
When completed, the full-size ark will remain in Dordrecht until the middle of 2012, when Huibers then plans to take his ship around the world, beginning with London in time for the Olympic Games.