VENICE: There aren’t enough gondolas in the world to help Venice, Italy, these days. In fact, the situation has become so bad, the municipality has ordered a mandatory evacuation of tourists with reportedly almost three-quarters of the city core underwater.
Monday, 29th October was an especially wet day when St. Mark’s Square was barricaded to prevent visitors from checking out the area, while police whisked children to safety. Those measures were taken when it was reported that water levels had reached a critical 43 inches above sea level, an unprecedented high. To make matters worse, the waters still kept rising until it hit 61 inches later that afternoon.
Even the city’s water transit (vaporetto) service was shut down, while elevated platforms normally used at main attraction sites were deemed too unsafe for pedestrian traffic. That left most adults on their own to commute through the city in thigh-deep water.
Venice isn’t the only casualty of the change in weather. At last report, the floods and storms have resulted in nine deaths and dozens of injuries across Italy, with schools being shut down in Rome, Genoa, and Veneto, as well as in areas further north.
Besides the high tides and heavy rainfall, pundits point to a few major contributors to the flooding. The bed that Venice sits on has been steadily rising with the increase of silt being washed ashore, combined with continuous extraction of methane gas beneath the sea near the city as well as rising sea waters due to global warming are often the most cited reasons.
While the city has been working on a number of floodgates the last 15 years to mitigate the floods, a number of scandals and construction costs have waylaid the endeavor, dubbed Project Moses. The undertaking is slated to be completed by 2022, although expense overruns have resulted in building costs reaching the $6.5 million mark.
Additionally, some researchers claim Project Moses can only withstand a sea level rise of a foot, while climate scientists claim that those levels could rise by two feet by 2050.