November 2019Climate ChangeInternational News2019Europe

Venice Hit with Worst Floods in Decades

Keshav Agiwal
Staff Writer

Severe flooding in Venice came as a shock to many after water levels reached 1.87 meters (around 6 feet) above sea level, according to Time. The city, which has canals rather than roads, is used to dealing with minor flooding in the past few decades but has not had to deal with something of this scale for over 30 years.

The forecasts originally predicted around 1.4 meters of flooding, a little over 4 feet, but after surging up to 1.87 meters many residents became fearful of the situation. On November 14, the government declared a state of emergency and put hundreds of millions of euros towards aid to help in rebuilding the city.

Many museums have closed as a precaution, though nothing seems to be damaged as of now, according to CNN. The flooding threatens to ruin hundreds of years of history and mosaics – some experts believe that the full extent of damages cannot be determined until all the water is first subsided. The Director of the Venetian Heritage organization, Toto Bergamo Rossi, said, “The main issue is saltwater. When salt permeates the materials of these buildings — be them marble, tiling, plaster or wood — it crystallizes and ascends vertically once the weather gets drier, from the ground to the first floor and so on. It’s almost like a cancer for these structures, all the more so when they are so old. The entire wall system can be affected.” on a phone call with CNN.

Venice’s future lies in how well the government can help the city rebound from this crisis. Though it is willing to put a large amount of money into the reconstruction of damaged businesses and property, the people must also be willing to cooperate in helping restore Venice to what it was. Luigi Brugnaro, the city’s mayor, says, “Venice is once again being watched by the world and it needs to show that it can succeed and pick itself back up.” The government is also planning to set up a program that would offer families and businesses money to rebuild their homes or buildings to recover from the flooding.

Civilians have suffered from losses amounting to thousands of euros and two people have died according to The Guardian. One was struck by lightning when using an electric water pump and another found dead in his home. Many shopkeepers have been trying to keep their products at higher elevations to prevent the water from reaching them. Civilians are not the only individuals affected by this disaster – tourists have been pulled into this crisis as well. Many have been seen outside taking pictures of themselves with their feet submerged in the water.

Weeks later, water levels have still not decreased. However, this hasn’t stopped Venetians from helping to save their city. According to USA Today, many volunteers and young Venetians have shown up to key sites to help preserve manuscripts and other valuables from the saltwater.

One of the reasons for the flood is the increasingly threatening problem of climate change. Rising sea levels and shifting tectonic plates is causing the land to sink, according to The Washington Post. The drastic changes in climate will be a stress multiplier for cities like Venice because they will add to the long list of economic problems that cities must already deal with. To decrease the rate at which climate change affects our planet, we need to call for countries to cooperate and create solutions so cities like Venice won’t have to deal with such severe flooding again in the future.

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