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article imageClimate change blamed for floods overwhelming Venice

By Karen Graham     Nov 13, 2019 in World
Venice’s mayor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after “apocalyptic” floods swept through the lagoon city, flooding its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings.
The flooding followed several days of rain across Italy that flooded 85 percent of the city. Water levels peaked at 1.87 meters (6 feet) shortly after midnight, according to tide monitors.
This was the highest level ever reached since the record-setting 1.94 meters (6.4 feet) level set in 1966. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro attributed the increased flooding to climate change and called for a state of emergency, encouraging local businesses to share photos and video footage of the devastation, which he said would be useful when requesting financial help from the government.
“For months now, I have been thinking I should sell my home and leave, because the assets I’d leave to my son one day won’t be worth much of anything,” city official Claudio Madricardo told the Washington Post, saying the rising water had left him temporarily house-bound. “Nobody will want a house in Venice, because the situation will be a disaster.”
St. Mark's Square and the basilica are in one of the lowest parts of Venice and inundated with ...
St. Mark's Square and the basilica are in one of the lowest parts of Venice and inundated with water
Marco Bertorello, AFP
St. Mark's Square
St. Mark's Square is located in one of the lowest parts of the city - and was one of the hardest-hit areas. According to church records, St Mark's Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years, this time "suffering grave damage," according to Mayor Brugnaro.
The crypt was completely flooded and there are fears of structural damage to the basilica's columns. Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St Mark's council, noted that of the six floods that have flooded the Basilica, four have occurred in the last 20 years. The cultural ministry said it would help fund improvements to the basilica's flood defenses.
A massive infrastructure project had been underway since 2003 in an attempt to protect the historic city, however, cost overruns, delays, and a few scandals have slowed the work down. The plan calls for the construction of 78 floating gates to protect Venice's lagoon during high tides.
While climate change is playing a role in the city's more frequent high tides and flooding, the city itself is sinking due to shifting tectonic plates below the Italian coast. Climatologists are saying Venice will be entirely submerged by the end of the century.
“Venice is an emblem for the whole country,” Brugnaro said in a press conference. “We are no longer talking about a local problem, but a worldwide one.”
More about Venice, Climate change, high tides, city sinking, oceab levels
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