Venice: St Mark's Square floods due to high tides
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“Acqua alta” (high water) affects the city during the autumn and winter months normally, and the effects of these can prove devastating.
Venice is made up of more than 100 islands inside a lagoon off the north-east coast of Italy, and St Mark’s Square is one of the lowest parts of the city so becomes easily submerged.
Minimal damage was caused during this out of season flood as many took the opportunity to continue enjoying the warm summer evening by cooling off in the water-soaked square.
Tourists and residents stayed in cafés, and the crowds surrounding the piazza seemed to be enjoying the spectacle.
Couples danced to piano music in the knee-deep water while children splashed and paddled and tourists waded through, shoes in hand.
Others were also seen wading through the water wearing plastic coverings over their shoes as a preventative measure.
While less severe than the floods residents are used to, heavy rains and strong winds are said to be the cause of the high water in this instance.
It is unusual that the weather has occurred out of season.
Experts claim climate change has worsened the combination of factors that normally cause these high water incidents, which often results in environmental devastation.
The ground level of the city has sunk over recent years, thanks to rising sea levels and erosion, making it susceptible to flooding.
Preventative measures are in place to help lessen the effects of flood damage on the low-lying coast and a long-delayed flood barrier was deployed for the first time last October.
The flood barrier is only activated to block the most potentially damaging tides of more than 130 cm (4 ft 3 inches) and so did not enter into operation on Sunday.
Floods that struck the Italian lagoon city back in November 2019 caused hundreds of millions of euros of damage, and resulted in Italy declaring a state of emergency as Venice was engulfed with huge quantities of water.
Over 75 percent of the city was submerged thanks to an acqua alta of 1.87 metres (6 foot), the highest in more than 50 years.
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The yearly flooding has disheartened many residents who were faced with extensive damage and the risk of future flooding.
The famous historical St Mark’s Basilica, alongside other famous landmarks, were victims of the flood, and hundreds of homes were left without power.
At the time, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as “a blow to the heart of our country”.
As water levels continue to rise, and the effect of subsidence continues, more pressure is placed on the lagoon defences surrounding the city especially as floods begin to occur out of season.
Houses have already been adapted in hopes of lessening the inevitable damage, whilst “soft” measures such as sea walls have been put in place.
More larger-scale projects like the Mose dam – a hydraulic barrier system that aims to shut off the lagoon in the event of rising sea levels and winter storms – intend to further protect the city of Venice from the devastation of the 2019 scale again.
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