This paper focuses on the causes and impacts of flood events between 1400 and 1953 in the estuaries of the rivers Meuse, Rhine and Schelde, and further south along the Belgian coast. Floods in this delta area have been caused by natural mechanisms. In particular, weather extremes such as storm surges interacting with tidal dynamics have been reshaping the estuaries for centuries. Therefore, the most important storm surges are briefly described and, by applying criteria to analyse their causes and using additional characteristics, they are furthermore compared amongst themselves. Because of the close interaction between man and nature in the delta area, several floods had purely human causes. These floods have been assessed by applying additional criteria. From the analysis of all the major floods discussed, it may be concluded that floods occurring during from surges were most common, but floods during warfare had the greatest impact on the environment. Copyright © 2006 IAHS Press.