Venice floods: Mayor blames climate change as rush is on to build defences

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CLIMATE change is to blame for the worst flooding in Venice for more than 50 years, according to its mayor.

Water levels rose to 74in on Tuesday, just 2in short of the 1966 record, flooding St Mark’s Square which is home to priceless artworks. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro is pushing for the completion of long-delayed flood barriers, opposed by environmental campaigners. He said the floods would leave “a permanent mark”, adding: “Now the government must listen. These are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high.”

About 85 percent of the city was flooded while two people died on the island of Pellestrina, a strip of land that separates the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic. One was a man in his 70s electrocuted as he tried to start a pump in his home.

Boats, including a gondola, were seen washed up on to pathways alongside canals while the city’s Basilica was also flooded.

The moveable undersea barriers the mayor is demanding are meant to limit flooding but the project, called Moses, has raised concerns about damage to the delicate lagoon eco-system. It has been hit by cost overruns and alleged corruption scandals.

Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia said the barriers were almost complete but warned “St Mark’s Square certainly wouldn’t be secure,” referring to one of Venice’s lowest levels. 

A British couple who went for a romantic break got caught up in the flooding. Richard Williams, who is cycling across Europe, met up in the city with his partner Elizabeth Dale, who had arrived from their home in Cornwall. 

Elizabeth said she “struggled to get around as I only had short wellies and I thought I was being sensible bringing them”. 

 

Is it safe to travel to Venice? How often does Venice flood?

Venice is submerged by record flooding today as the iconic Italian city struggles under a six-foot deep “acqua alta”.
Is it safe to travel to Venice?

Venice is currently underwater, as floodwaters breaching six feet drown some of the city’s historic landmarks. Officials have recorded maximum water heights of 1.87 metres, just seven centimetres short of its highest recorded tide in history. According to Italian authorities, one 78-year-old man has died as the water crept into his home, and police are surveying damage to the city.

Flooding in Venice today has entered some of the city’s most beloved tourist attractions, including St Mark’s Cathedral and the Ducal Palace.

Shops and cafes are also flooded, making it difficult for tourists to enjoy Venice’s unique atmosphere.

However, the city experiences regular flooding and officials have taken steps to ensure visitors are safe while the waters rise.

City officials have installed raised platforms for tourists still eager to see the sights.

Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro said “everyone” has been scrambled to help cope with the rising water.

Hotels are also handing out disposable rain boots, and some to

Taking to Twitter, the museum said: “High tide? No problem if you are triton or a nereid! For the record: we are open, and we are waiting for you despite the adverse conditions.”

Many residents are unfazed by the high waters, with some declaring the phenomenon makes Venice a “special place”.

One Venetian told EuroNews: “Venice is a very beautiful city, and it becomes a very special place when the water level is high.

“But apart from the beauty which this phenomenon gives to the city, there are also problems.”

urist attractions are still open.

Both the Ducal Palace and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia have stayed open for visitors.

How often does Venice flood?

Flooding in Venice is referred to by locals as “acqua alta”, and happens annually during autumn and spring.

Unlike the UK, which regularly floods due to heavy rain in the winter, high tides cause flooding in Venice.

The famed floating city sits on a lagoon, an enclosed bay of the Adriatic sea which is particularly prone to high tides, which reach their peak in Venice and nearby Chioggia.

The latest flood levels are approaching levels of Venice’s most devastating acqua alta of 1966.

During the record floods 53 years ago, water levels reached depths of six foot four (194cm).

Three days of rain which came with the tide left residents walking in water up to their shoulders, and more than 75 percent of shops and business were destroyed or severely damaged.

Following the 1966 swell the city set up dedicated data analytics to help forecast forthcoming tide levels, which ultimately became the Tide Monitoring and Forecast Centre.