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US News Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears

04:06  18 november  2019
04:06  18 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Flooded Venice has tourists taking selfies and residents in tears . Those calculations only take sea-level rise into consideration, and do not include the sinking of the land on which Venice sits, which means flooding would be even more common than those figures suggest.

Tourists take pictures in a flooded St Mark's Square, in Venice on Wednesday. The high-water mark hit 187cm, meaning Police barked at people who stopped on the planks to take flood -zone selfies . Elsewhere, though, Venetians were at work trying to return their city to what it had been days earlier.

VENICE —Even by the standards of a city built in a shallow lagoon, the water on Thursday was everywhere that it wasn’t supposed to be.

Nearly knee-high, the floodwaters spread across the city’s main piazza, turning it into a vast lake for seagulls. At the nearby millennium-old basilica, the last inches of water remained in the crypt even after a day of pumping, collecting around the tomb of a Roman Catholic cardinal. All around the busiest parts of the city, the water slicked the floors of cafes and Murano glass shops and seeped into hotel lobbies, leaving a smell of sewage in its wake. 

Waters Close Over Venice

  Waters Close Over Venice Waters Close Over Venice

Increasing floods , badly managed tourism and lack of affordable homes drive residents out. As many as 60,000 tourists a day visit Venice ’s historic centre, many from cruise ships. “But none of them have got their feet wet or had their homes flooded . We lose around 1,000 people a year and if

Tourists brave the flood water in St Mark’s Square, Venice , in October last year. Taking a selfie against the backdrop of the Grand Canal, Ciro Esposito and his girlfriend have just arrived and are Venice may have a centuries-long history of cultivating tourism , devising crowd-drawing events such

a man standing in front of a building: A man walks in the flooded crypt of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice on Wednesday. © Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images A man walks in the flooded crypt of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice on Wednesday. Related: Flooded Venice battles new tidal surge, with 70% of its historic centre now under water

  Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears © AP

Venice, on the surface, can rebound quickly from disastrous flooding. The tourists this week never left; one posed for pictures with soot and mud on her wedding dress. But the people who live here say the toll of repeated inundation is mounting — measured not only in the damage to businesses and precious art or architecture, but above all, in the sense that life in one of the world’s most improbable and spellbinding cities is becoming unviable. 

“The reaction is to cry,” said Flavia Feletti, 77, who has lived in Venice for six decades. “I am afraid there is no solution. When I went out the day after the flooding, I met a kind of funeral in the city.”

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As a tourist in Venice , you rarely get a glimpse of local life. Last week, though, tourists couldn't The floods had dissipated by the time we arrived, and the most palpable damage -- the waterbus The armies of young people who have patrolled the city helping residents clean and rebuild have been

VENICE , Italy — Tourists and Venetians alike donned high boots and took to strategically placed raised walkways on Tuesday to slosh through the high water that has hit much of the lagoon city. Venice 's tide forecast office said the water level peaked at about 4 feet 3 inches Tuesday morning but

Venice has thrived since the 5th century by taming the water all around it. In recent decades, even as the land has been sinking while the sea level has been rising, many Venetians figured the city would again find a way to evolve and hang on. But one major flood after the next is testing that faith, and a major civil engineering project to protect the city remains unfinished, slowed by corruption scandals, and might already be obsolete.

  Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears © AP The city is endangered — not just as a tourist destination, but for the 50,000 people who continue to live in Venice year-round, and who know the water well enough to describe in detail how it is changing and becoming more threatening.

This week, in an event known as an “acqua alta,” a tide of more the six feet surged in from the Adriatic Sea and quickly covered 85 percent of the city. The flooding was the most severe in 50 years. But similar if less drastic flooding is becoming common. Some experts warn that Venice could be underwater within a century.

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The water had already taken its toll on the marble columns, brought from Byzantium centuries ago. Mr. Campostrini pointed at one base, now a corroded green crumble They clog the narrow streets and have pushed out residents in favor of Airbnb apartments. Flooding , though, is the existential danger.

Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears . Because of rising seas, extreme flooding that used to occur in Venice once every 100 years is expected to recur every six This only takes sea-level rise into account, which will become a progressively greater concern as time goes on.

“It’s a city full of history,” said Vladimiro Cavagnis, a fourth-generation Venetian gondolier, who chauffeurs tourists on the city’s trademark rowing boats. “A history that, little by little, with water, will end up like the Atlantis. People are destroyed, anguished, sad. They see a city that is disappearing.”

  Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears © Reuters

To be in Venice this week, at least in some of those most touristed parts, was to watch everyday life carry on when nature makes it highly impractical. Entrepreneurs sold cheap rainboots for 10 euros, and the city erected elevated walkways so visitors could move across flooded areas in narrow lines. Police barked at people who stopped on the planks to take flood-zone selfies.

a group of people standing in front of a building: People walk on a footbridge across the flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice on Thursday. © Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images People walk on a footbridge across the flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice on Thursday.

Elsewhere, though, Venetians were at work trying to return their city to what it had been days earlier. Employees swept water out of stores and took inventories of the damage. At St. Mark’s Basilica, closed to visitors because of the flooding, workers were monitoring the cathedral’s ornate and ancient flooring, finding pieces of marble that had chipped away as the saltwater receded.

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“What should I do with this one?” a worker asked, holding up a deep red marble triangle, and showing it to Mario Piana, the head of restoration.

“Put it over by the altar,” Piana said, where more than a dozen other pieces had already been collected.

  Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears © Getty

Piana said at the peak of the flooding on Tuesday night, parts of the church were covered in a foot of water, and the days since then had been “chaos.”

He described the church as a fragile beauty — covered nearly from ceiling to floor with a mosaic of gold and marble. Parts of the flooring, uneven as a wave, date back to 1094. Even before this week, work was underway to remove salt from marble pillars.

“I’m worried,” Piana said. “I’m worried for the basilica.

“The acqua alta does not create immediate, obvious damages. On the outside, you do not immediately see anything. But it is comparable to radiation exposure. In a week, you lose your hair. In a year, you might be dead.”

Members of the municipal police stand by St. Mark's Basilica in Venice on Thursday. © Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images Members of the municipal police stand by St. Mark's Basilica in Venice on Thursday.

Venice, over the centuries, has diverted rivers to protect the lagoon and extended the barrier islands. But now, the sea level is rising several millimeters every year.

Offshore, at the inlets between those barrier islands, a massive project known as MOSE could potentially boost Venice’s protection — with floodgates that could be raised from the sea during high tide, sealing off the lagoon. The project, launched in 2003, was once forecast to finish in 2011. Then 2014. Now, projections call for completion in 2022.

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Some experts say that if sea levels rise as predicted, the gates will need to be permanently raised, creating an equally serious problem: Venice would become a contained aquatic petri dish, and face issues with sewage, algae growth and microbiological pollution.

Older Venetians tend to remember the record-flooding of 1966, when such an event was more of an outlier. The flooding this week was just seven centimeters shy of that mark. Serious flooding also hit the city in 2018.

Related: Venice flooding marks highest tides in 50 years [USA Today]

a group of people standing on top of a pier: A man crosses the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight

“Psychologically, it has been a blow,” said Maurizio Calligaro, 65, a native Venetian who headed the city’s civil protection for two decades, until 2014.

Calligaro said that for people in their 60s, the record flood was a “very strong shared trauma, not unlike the memory of war.” This time, though, “it took only five hours to do what ’66 did in 12. Such violence is intrinsic to climate change.”

Some Venetians, he said, are still resistant to the climate realities — and direct their anger at the problems with MOSE, a project that has cost 6 billion euros.

a group of people standing next to a body of water: People watch the sunset over San Giorgio Maggiore on Thursday. © Filippo Monteforte/Afp Via Getty Images People watch the sunset over San Giorgio Maggiore on Thursday. Residents say that climate change is not the only threat, and the city is also struggling to contend with runaway tourism — by some counts, 30 million visitors per year, who drive up costs for locals, compel Venetians to turn their apartments into Airbnbs and who drive an economy with jobs largely in tourism.

“There are too many tourists for every citizen,” said Aline Cendon, 52, who has written several books on Venice.

Cendon said that, after 1966, Venetians left in droves. She feared a similar response this time.

“A town, a city, without residents — what remains?” Cendon said. “It loses its very being.”

chico.harlan@washpost.com


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