A state of emergency was declared in Venice, Italy on Thursday following the city’s worst flood in the last 50 years earlier on Tuesday.
Water levels in Venice have peaked at 1.87 meters (over six feet, one inch) above sea level with 85 percent of the city under water. The city has declared a state of emergency due to the damage caused by the floods, with major landmarks such as St. Mark square suffering structural damage, and power outages throughout the city. “Because the water has risen, this is causing irreparable harm, especially – when it dries out- in the lower section of the mosaics and tiling.” Said the Archbishop of Venice, Francesco Moraglia.
The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, estimated the damage of the floods to be at “hundreds of millions of euros.” He also blamed climate change for the flood, a claim that has been backed up by scientists, with city officials saying that Venice’s sea levels have risen four inches in the last 50 years due to polar ice caps melting that are causing the ocean and sea levels to rise.
Floods in Venice are an annual occurrence around the months of October through January and are called the “Acqua alta”. With the city being a very low-lying city sitting only at three feet above sea level, it is sinking at a rate of a fifth of an inch each year, with climate scientists claiming that the entire city will be under water by the end of the century.
Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, says that the commitment to Venice is total regarding the underwater floodgates project that was originally delayed due to cost burdens and corruption scandals but is now expected to be completed by 2022, with Conte saying that he hopes it could be partially in use by then.