Published on : Thursday, November 14, 2019
The mayor of Venice has been blamed for drastic climate change for its highest tide in over 50 years, which flooded St Mark’s Square and many of the ancient city’s alleyways, which attract millions of tourists throughout the year. A state of emergency was declared in Venice over dangerously high tides that invaded most the city’s cafes, stores and other tourist locations. The water level hit 6.14 feet, according to the city’s tide forecast office. The high tides reached the second-highest level ever recorded in the city and just 2½ inches lower than the historic 1966 flood. Another flood swallowed up Venice on Wednesday morning, causing the “acqua alta”, or high water, to reach 1.60 metres. Most of the water had receded by the afternoon, but residents are bracing themselves for more to come as forecasts predicted high tides of 1.20 metres late on Wednesday night and 1.30 metres on Thursday morning.
The alarm sound sounded to warn people in the city of Venice of the rising water, or “acqua alta,” and authorities closed nursery schools as a precaution. Another round of exceptionally high water followed Wednesday and prompted calls to better protect the historic city from costly damage.
A top tourist attraction, the Ducal Palace, just off St. Mark’s Square, tweeted that it was open “despite the exceptional tide,” and advised visitors to use the raised walkways leading to its entrance.
Luigi Brugnaro said that they asked the government for help and the cost will be high. Then warning of severe damage, he said he would ask the government to declare a state of emergency to allow funds to be freed for repairs.
The high-water mark hit 187cm (74in) late on Tuesday, meaning more than 85 per cent of the canal city was submerged. The highest level ever recorded was 198cm (78in) during infamous flooding in 1966.
One person died after he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump on Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, the fire brigade said. Another death was later reported on the island, but the cause is unclear. St Mark’s Square was left submerged under more than one metre (3.3ft) of water, while St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years. In Venice, the crypt beneath St. Mark’s Basilica was under-water for only the second time in its history. The damage was also reported at the Ca’ Pesaro modern art gallery, where a short circuit set off a fire, and at La Fenice theater, where authorities turned off electricity as a precaution after the control room was flooded.
Four of those inundations have come within the last 20 years, most recently in October 2018. Others showed deep waters flowing like a river along one of Venice’s main thoroughfares, while another showed large waves hammering boats moored alongside the Doge’s Palace and surging over the stone pavements. The tide level had fallen to 145cm by Wednesday morning, but it was expected to rise back to 160cm during the day. Even lower levels of the salty water have taken their toll on the city over the years, eroding the foundations of homes and businesses.