Venice Affected by Deadly Floods


Oliver Jamias, Contributor

During November, the city of Venice, Italy began to suffer floods that threatened its rich culture.  Centuries worth of precious art and history are in danger of being destroyed by rising tides.  These tides, dubbed “acqua alta” by the citizens, reached a height of 1.5 meters, or nearly 5 feet.  For 50 years, Venice had never experienced a tide this bad.  Not only has the high tide reached unmanageable levels, but they have also occurred in a period of only one week, where as previous high tides rarely happened in the same year.

Tourists became unhappy with the current situation unfolding in Venice.  Museums showcasing the history of the city were closed in fear of floods.  St. Mark’s Square, a popular tourist site for taking pictures, was blocked off by sandbags to prevent the deterioration of the insides by salt water.  However, near the Square, the Correr Museum remained open, allowing visitors to look at the wonders of the city from a relatively safe spot.

Officials of the city have used several methods of fighting the floods, with varying levels of success.  280 volunteers deployed by the city officials were made available in order to help those in flooded areas.  Several citizens themselves have been helping in protecting valuable artifacts stored in areas in risk of being drowned by rising tides.  However, there have been several notable failures in attempts to save the city.  The MOSE project, which was specifically made to combat disasters such as floods, was not able to assist in any way.  This project, consisting of several dams underwater, is still undergoing construction even though work began 16 years ago.  The MOSE project also cost the city 5 billion in publicly-funded euros, and was supposed to be functional by 2011.

Venice has suffered both human and financial losses during the floods.  One man was killed by being fatally shocked while using an electrical water pump, while another man’s body was found in his home, dead by unknown causes.  As for the city itself, the damage caused by the rising water levels would require a large amount of euros to repair.  More specifically, the mayor of Venice has estimated the cost of the damage as of November 18 to be in the hundred million range.

Even with the disaster unfolding around them, tourists and locals alike managed to find a way to stay in the historic city.  Many business owners simply placed their wares in locations that the water was unable to reach, while others used pumping systems and mops to keep the water at bay.  Tourists equipped rubber boots in order to enjoy the city and take pictures in areas filled with water.

While it has been a while since Venice suffered a flood this deadly, according to Lorenzo Bonometto, a lagoon ecologist, high tides, or acqua alta, are a normal event in the city.  However, the raised sea levels, combined with notably strong winds, resulted in a recipe for destruction that affected a city that was already suffering from climate change.

Venice, a city renowned for the culture it stores on its island, is in danger of having its treasures being taken away by disasters that could have been prevented.  Whatever the result is, Venice is in deep water.