From Jeff Masters' blog, describing the Dutch response to a powerful North Sea storm:
While today's storm did not approach the 1953 storm in severity, it did bring the highest storm surge seen in the past 20 years to the North Sea. The massive flood gates that protect the Dutch port of Rotterdam were closed for the first time since they were constructed in the 1990s. From early media accounts, the gates did their job admirably, protecting the Netherlands from inundation. Water levels reached 3.16 meters above mean sea level in the southern Netherlands, and 3.40 meters above sea level in the northern Netherlands, with no flooding reported.
If only we'd built something similar to protect New Orleans...
P.S.: For more info on the Dutch gated structure known as the Maeslantkering, see here.