Pope stops flood in Netherlands, gets hand stuck in wall

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Pope Benedict stops a leak in the dike at in Amsterdam Tuesday.  (Ronen Zvulun/Associated Press)
Pope Benedict stops a leak in the dyke at in Amsterdam Tuesday. (Ronen Zvulun/Associated Press)

AMSTERDAM — Pope Benedict may have prevented a disaster in the Netherlands this morning. The pontiff was strolling along Zee-Promenade, the walkway which encircles the city of Amsterdam, when he noticed a trickle of water coming from the wall of one of the city’s dykes, according to Vatican sources.

“The pope acted very quickly to avert disaster,” said Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen. “He ran right over to the leaky wall and stuck his hand in it.”

“I was there when it happened,” reports Chana Coons of Amsterdam. “He was just strolling along fingering his rosary — it looked like he was praying. All of a sudden, he was making a bee-line for the wall. It looked sort of comical until we realized what was happening.”

Cohen said that the pope has now joined a long list of people who have saved their country by sticking a hand in a dyke.  “The pope is the oldest since we started keeping track in 1842. The youngest was a 3-month old baby named Hans.”

Shortly after repair crews arrived to address the damage, it became apparent that the pope was unable to remove his hand from the wall.

“He remained remarkably calm throughout the whole affair,” said Coons, who had been out walking with her two children. “A whole crowd gathered. He waved very nicely, but you could tell he wasn’t used to waving with his left hand. ”

Eventually rescue workers arrived and removed the pontiff’s hand from the wall using a special tool designed for this purpose.

“The Holy Father is recovering well,” the Vatican report stated. “His blessing hand is scratched, but is fully functional.”

“There is a myth that you can stop a leak with just a finger,” said Cohen. “But the truth is you really have to wedge your hand in there. In the case of  Baby Hans, his mother put his whole body in the crack, feet first.”

The pope will be honoured at a special ceremony at Amsterdam city hall tomorrow. “We’d like to add his name to our Plaque of Dyke Savers, which we keep in a prominent place in City Hall,” said Cohen. “Baby Hans, who is now 92, will be there to present him an special engraved gold tulip.”

“I’ll definitely be there,” said Coons. “We regard our Dyke Savers very highly in the Netherlands.”

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