“Der Schimmelreiter” (The Dykemaster) by Theodor Storm paints a very good (and well researched) picture about life in the coastal regions of Northern Germany, which has been threatened by storm surges for thousands of years.
For the more Google-inclined some good links to check out are:
These are projects in the Netherlands, even more endangered by floods and storms.
Of course these storm barriers/levees are expensive to build and keep in running order. But they bring safety to the people living there, something they are very well aware of. Nobody complains about money spent on these structures. They are indispensable.