Venice is bracing for another high tide today, with storms and winds set to bring fresh misery to the city just days after it suffered ‘devastation’ in a near-record flood.
Water levels are expected to reach five feet on Friday, lower than Tuesday’s peak but enough to be dangerous, officials said.
Last night Italy’s government declared a state of emergency, offered € 20 million in recovery funds and vowed that a long-delayed flood protection barrier would finally be built by 2021.
Locals are battling to clean up the damage in the ‘suffering’ city and the historic St Mark’s Basilica has sustained ‘irreparable damage’ after water invaded the crypt.
However, some tourists have revelled in the ‘unique experience’ of a flooded Venice, taking selfies in the squares and wading through the streets and alleyways in colorful waterproof overshoes.
Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi also paid a visit to the city last night with his rival right-wing leader Matteo Salvini set to follow on Friday.
Recovery: Workers in Venice carry wooden boards to create a bridge across St Mark’s Square today, with the plaza still submerged three days after the peak of the floods with further misery on the way today
Walkway: People wearing colorful waterproof overshoes walk across a temporary bridge in Venice today
Workers carry pieces of a temporary walkway over the flooded St Mark’s Square where water levels remained high today
Visitor: Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi walks through the flooded St Mark’s Square on a visit to the city yesterday
Still flooded: A man pulls a cart through St Mark’s Square yesterday morning, where waters have receded from their peak but where much of the plaza is still submerged and the historic St Mark’s Basilica in the background has been partially flooded
Just married: A newlywed couple walk across a flooded square ye sterday as Italy declared a state of emergency
St Mark’s Square remained partially underwater yesterday with a rose floating in the water (right) after the heavy floods
Inspection: Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte rides on a boat yesterday as he surveys the flood damage in Venice
Two people sit on bistro chairs in the middle of flooded St Mark’s Square while other chairs are stacked up outside a cafe
The water in St Mark’s Square remained at least ankle-deep yesterday with people wearing protective footwear to cross it
People take pictures in the flooded St Mark’s Square yesterday as water levels remained high two days after the floods
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who has called the flooding ‘ a blow to the heart of our country ‘, said last night that a state of emergency had been approved.
Venice residents will be eligible for € 5, 000 in government aid while restaurant and shop owners could receive up to € 20, 000 apply for more later, he said.
A woman wades in knee-deep water at the flooded St. Mark’s Square yesterday
High waters brought misery to local residents – stranding boats and gondolas, battering shops and hotels and leaving many of the city’s squares and alleyways deep underwater.
French tourist Manon Gaudre, 22, said seeing Venice under water was a ‘unique experience’.
‘The damage it’s causing to monuments and the people is worrying,’ she said, wondering if climate change was to blame.
Austrian visitor Cornelia Litschauer, 28, said she felt mixed emotions seeing the famous St Mark’s Square half-submerged.
‘For the tourists it’s amazing, it’s something to see. But for the people who live here it’s a real problem, ‘she said. ‘It’s strange. Tourists are taking pictures but the city is suffering. ‘
The Locanda Al Leon hotel said its bookings had suffered from the flood, with some guests cancelling their rooms after seeing images of Venice underwater.
The basilica was closed to tourists yesterday as were many other Venice highlights including the Fenice Theater and the Ducal Palace.
The mayor of Venice has blamed climate change for the disaster but is was anger among Venetians at the corruption which has held up the flood barrier project.
‘We need to be resilient and adapt. We need a policy that looks at the climate through completely different eyes, ‘Italy’s environment minister Sergio Costa said yesterday.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro had said the city was ‘on its knees’ and warned of ‘widespread devastation’ after the tide peaked at nearly 6ft 2in on Tuesday night, second only to the record 6ft 5in set in 1966.
Luca Zaia, the premier of the Veneto region, told Italian media that the city was ‘faced with total, apocalyptic devastation’.
‘I’m not exaggerating – 80 per cent of the city is under water, the damage is unimaginable, ‘he said at the peak of the flooding.
Members of the municipal police stand by Mark’s Basilica on the the flooded St. Mark’s Square yesterday
People wade through the water in an alleyway in Venice yesterday with Italy’s government declaring a state of emergency
A woman gets a piggyback ride from a man in St Mark’s Square, both of them wearing boots with the water level still high
People in protective footwear walk along a temporary platform to cross part of St Mark’s Square on Thursday
Two people carry a piece of wooden furniture out of the flooded crypt of St Mark’s Basilica where major damage is feared
People walk across a nearly-deserted St Mark’s Square in Venice last night after the floodwaters receded to a few puddles
The flooded St Mark’s Square is seen yesterday, with St. Mark’s Basilica (left) and the Bell Tower rising above it
People wade through water near St Mark’s Square yesterday where officials were assessing the damage to St Mark’s Basilica
Gondolas are detached from the moorings and pushed on to the Riva degli Schiavoni the day after the flooding
IS CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FLOODING OF VENICE?
The rising floodwaters were caused by a devastating combination of high spring tides and a storm surge.
The latter was whipped up by high, northeasterly winds blowing across the Adriatic Sea. )
Locals refer to these exceptional tide peaks as ‘Acqua alta’.
The present Acqua alta is the second largest in recorded history.
The frequency of these events appears to be increasing, with half of the worst recorded tides in Venice having occurred in the last two decades.
Experts believe that climate change will make storm surges occur with greater regularity.
It is feared that the warming climate is causing the jet stream in the northern hemisphere to become more ‘wavy’ – shunting low-pressure systems into the Mediterranean.
This will increase the risk of surges meeting high spring tides and leading to Acqua alta – and extreme flooding.
In addition, scientists have warned that Venice and much of Italy’s northern Adriatic coastline could disappear entirely by 2100 because of rising sea levels.
Today authorities will continue to assess the damage to Venice’s cultural treasures and infrastructure.
Damage included five ferries that serve as water buses, a critical means of transportation in a city with no road or rail links except to the mainland.
Heavy rainfall across Italy, combined with high tides that were pushed into Venice by southerly winds, brought chaos to a city built on canals.
Water poured through wooden boards that shop and hotel owners have previously placed in front of doors to hold back water.
One person, a man in his 70 s, was electrocuted when water entered his home on the barrier island of Pellestrina. Another fatality was also reported in the city, although it was not clear if the flood waters were directly responsible for his death.
The mayor said the floods were ‘the effects of climate change’ and demanded that a long-delayed barrier protection project ‘must be finished soon’.
The so-called ‘Moses’ plan involves 78 moveable gates under the sea that can be raised to protect Venice’s lagoon during high tides.
The project began in 2003 but has been plagued by corruption and rising costs and there is no completion date in sight.
In addition, a recent attempt to test part of the barrier caused worrying vibrations and engineers discovered parts had rusted.
‘They’ve done nothing, neglected it. It doesn’t work and they have stolen six billion euros. The politicians should all be put in jail, ‘said local Dino Perzolla, 62.
Zaia, the regional governor, told Italian TV that the barriers were almost complete, but said it was not even clear if they would work against this week’s intense flooding.
The city of canals is home to a mere 50, 000 residents but receives 36 million global visitors each year .
People wearing yellow and orange waterproof footwear walk along a temporary platform near the flooded St Mark’s Square
A man holds his shoes as he wades barefoot through water after flooding which was described as ‘apocalyptic’
Workers push a cart over a temporary bridge with many of Venice’s streets still flooded after the intense weather
A woman with a bucket slops water out of her shop in a Venice alleyway as another man wearing boots looks on
Stranded gondolas float on the water in Venice last night after the city suffered ‘apocalyptic’ damage in the floods
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte paid a visit to Venice on Wednesday evening to see for himself the devastation from near-record flooding that has inundated the city
Inside the basilica: Floodwater overruns part of the centuries-old St Mark’s Basilica in the low-l ying St Mark’s Square
Italian environment minister Sergio Costa blamed climate change and the ‘tropicalisation’ of violent rainfall and strong winds.
‘ This is what is happening more and more often in the Mediterranean, ‘Costa said on Facebook. ‘Global warming will destroy our planet if we do not immediately reverse the direction.’
Professor Nigel Wright, an expert in flood risk management at Nottingham Trent University, said the high water levels were a ‘double whammy of an extreme high tide and the low pressure from a storm raising the sea level ‘.
‘ With sea levels rising this is likely to become more and more common causing untold damage to centuries-old buildings, ‘he warned.
‘The city has long planned for a defense system around the Venice lagoon, but such plans take a long time to plan, agree and implement,’ he said.
The basilica’s sixth flood in 1, 200 years was its fourth in the last 20, and the vestibule of the church was inundated with water yesterday.
The flood sparked fears for the church’s collection of rich mosaics and artworks, and dirty water was swirling around marble tombs in the crypt.
‘We’re talking about millions of euros worth of damage,’ said Carlo Alberto Tesserin, first procurator of the Basilica, who is the president of a team responsible for managing the historic site.
‘We said last year that the Basilica had aged 20 years in a high tide. It risks having aged much more than that in this one, ‘he said.
Venice archbishop Francesco Moraglia told a news conference that ‘the Basilica is suffering structural damage because the water has risen and so it’s causing irreparable damage, especially when it dries out in the lower section of the mosaics and tiling. ‘
A crowd of people wade through a street in Venice with hotels and shops on either side fear damage from the flood
Tourists lugging heavy suitcases waded in thigh-high galoshes or barefoot through the submerged alleys, as water taxi and gondola drivers baled sewage-tainted water out of their trashed vessels
A woman wearing blue protective footwear steadies herself by the side of a flooded alleyway in Venice
Wading in the water: The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, walks in the submerged St Mark’s Square yesterday as Venice responds to one of the worst episodes of flooding in its history – which the mayor has blamed on climate change
In addition, the electrical system at La Fenice theater was switched off after floodwaters entered a service area, and firefighters tackled a blaze at the Ca ‘Pesaro modern art gallery which was caused by a short circuit.
One of Conte’s colleagues, education minister Lorenzo Fioramonti, also raised global warming as a likely cause and said ‘the consequences of climate change do not allow for delay’.
The ‘acqua alta,’ or high waters, rose above six feet as the flood alarm sounded across Venice on Tuesday.
‘It was unbelievable, the water rose so quickly,’ said resident Tiziano Collarin, 59, as he surveyed the damage. ‘Windows were blown out, there are those who have lost everything.’
Marina Vector, who was yesterday scooping buckets of water out of the shop she runs with her husband, said the flooding was ‘apocalyptic, enough to give you goosebumps’.
‘The storm was so bad it broke the marble flood barrier out front. Nothing’s survived, ‘she said.
A woman wears bin bags as she carries her suitcase while wading through high water yesterday
Stranded: Wind and high water brought a gondola on to the pavement in Venice, where it remained stuck yesterday
The whole of St Mark’s Square is seen submerged yesterday, causing ‘irreparable’ damage to the historic St Mark’s Basilica
A gondola rests over a barrier near a footbridge after severe flooding in the city
A Banksy artwork of a migrant child is seen partially submerged by the floodwater in Venice on Wednesday
Italian soldiers walk past a flooded cafe by the side of St Mark’s Square as they help the clean-up operation in Venice
A man wades through water wearing blue waterproof footwear over his feet and lower legs in Venice on Thursday
A man in a coat and tall boots walks past a newspaper kiosk which was o pen today after the floods in Venice
PM Conte inspects the area after catastrophic floods which have led his government to declare a state of emergency
An entrance hall at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice is seen submerged with the visitor’s area deserted this week after the floods
The bell tower and basilica in St Mark’s Square are seen from a distance with buildings partly reflected in the high waters
Before and after: People walk in St Mark’s Square (left) just hours before the plaza was submerged by floods overnight (right)
A man spreads his arms as he stands knee-deep in water in St Mark’s Square, the centerpiece of Venice, at the height of floods