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World Venice is flooding -- what's the future of its historical sites?

08:10  17 november  2019
08:10  17 november  2019 Source:   cnn.com

Amid flooding and rising sea levels, residents of one barrier island wonder if it’s time to retreat

  Amid flooding and rising sea levels, residents of one barrier island wonder if it’s time to retreat Ocracoke has been closed to visitors since it was slammed by a seven-foot wall of water conjured by Hurricane Dorian.But two months ago, Hurricane Dorian washed away all signs of normalcy here. After buzz-cutting the Bahamas, the giant storm rolled overhead, raising a seven-foot wall of water in its wake that sloshed back through the harbor, invading century-old homes that have never before taken in water and sending islanders such as post office head Celeste Brooks and her two grandchildren scrambling into their attics.

Other architectural and historical treasures in the UNESCO World Heritage Site have also been hit hard. From great monuments such as St. Mark' s Square and the Doge' s Palace to its historical neighborhoods, Venice has one of the highest concentrations of architectural masterpieces in the world.

Venice has experienced some of the worst flooding in its history this week, with flood levels of over six feet submerging the city’ s most revered and trafficked historical sites . High tides have washed over 85 percent of the one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world

Images of the flooded St. Mark's Basilica in Venice have shocked many across the world this week. Since Tuesday, parts of the city were damaged by the most severe high waters Venice has seen in over half a century, with six-foot high tide levels engulfing 85% of its streets and buildings, some of which are of tremendous cultural value.

Tourists, Venetians slosh through flooded lagoon city

  Tourists, Venetians slosh through flooded lagoon city 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 1.27 meters (about 4 feet 3 inches) Tuesday morning but warned that an even higher tide was forecast for after nightfall.

Venice is flooding -- what lies ahead for its cultural and historical sites ? Its medieval bar was closed, tables, chairs and grand piano piled on top of each other, water pooling in the middle. The bars in the piazza itself, normally buzzing with tourists willing to pay for a cappuccino with live

Destructive flooding hit Venice , Italy on November 12, when the second highest water level on record--1.87 meters (6.2 feet)--inundated over 80% of the historic city at 10:50 pm local time. At least two deaths are being blamed on the flood , and damage will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars

St. Mark's Basilica, built in the 9th century to house the relics of St. Mark, and one of the world's most famous cathedrals, is one of them. The city's mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who declared a state of emergency on Thursday, said the landmark had suffered "grave damage." Other architectural and historical treasures in the UNESCO World Heritage Site have also been hit hard.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has described the disaster as "a blow to the art of our country."

"While it's still too early to quantify the extent of its havoc, chances are it will leave indelible marks."

Threat to monuments and cultural institutions

From great monuments such as St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace to its historical neighborhoods, Venice has one of the highest concentrations of architectural masterpieces in the world. It's also home to some of the greatest paintings from artists like Canaletto, J.M.W Turner and Francesco Guardi.

Climate change, corruption blamed for Venice flood devastation

  Climate change, corruption blamed for Venice flood devastation Much of Venice was underwater on Wednesday after the highest tide in 50 years ripped through the historic Italian city, beaching gondolas, trashing hotels and sending tourists fleeing through rapidly rising waters. Officials blamed climate change while shopkeepers on the Grand Canal raged against those who have failed to protect the UNESCO city from the high tide.

"What we need now is not daytrippers but people who come, take their time and spend their money in the right places," he says. We don't need tourists in two weeks; we urgently need the kind who are aware of what ' s happened, who will spend money in local businesses and will help those businesses

VENICE , Italy--If you've heard that this famous city, built on islands, is sinking, you've only heard part of the problem. Over the last 100 years, it has indeed lost 23 centimeters of land, but today, there are bigger problems facing Venice and seriously threatening its future .

The tidewaters are sparing none. St. Mark's Basilica, which has only been flooded six times in its nine-century history, is currently one of the main concerns for heritage and architectural experts. Its interiors -- the narthex and the baptistery -- have been inundated, and water pressure has broken its lower windows, submerging the crypt beneath, according to Italian press agency AGI.

"The situation is extremely complex and worrisome, not just for the water level, but also the number of hours the precious marble floorings and wooden coatings of the Basilica have been submerged," Salvo Natasi, Secretary General of Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities told Italian press agency ANSA. "Water has invaded the entire cathedral, not just its initial section, as it did during the last floods last year. Superintendents are at work and have made all their restoration specialists available."

Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears

  Flooded Venice had tourists taking selfies and residents in tears There’s a 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.” Your browser does not support this video require(["binding"], function (binding) { binding("wcVideoPlayer", "#video_player_92a36127-9669-49ac-b516-8fa4fa9812c8").all(); }); Venice has thrived since the 5th century by taming the water all around it.

Venice and other nearby towns are inside the 550-square-kilometer Venice Lagoon, which is and efforts to counteract the degradation of the lagoon environment and its natural habitats. This should, according to the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, defend the city against floods , as well as protect port

VENICE , Italy--If you've heard that this famous city, built on islands, is sinking, you've only heard part of the problem. Over the last 100 years, it has indeed lost 23 centimeters of land, but today, there are bigger problems facing Venice and seriously threatening its future .

There are also fears of structural damage to the Basilica's white-black breccia columns, and the possible corrosion caused by saltwater on its intricate mosaics and tiling.

Other notable sites have been affected. The baroque-style church of San Moisè, just behind St. Mark's Square, is flooded. It houses artworks by Tintoretto and Palma il Giovane, and numerous marble sculptures attributed to German artist Heinrich Meyring. The Teatro La Fenice, part of an 18th century palace; the Ca' Foscari University, which has been housed in a Venetian Gothic complex since 1868; and Doge's Palace, an opulent museum boasting remarkable 14th century architecture, have also been heavily damaged, Art Tribune reports.

Meanwhile, images of the 15th century Gritti Palace, a sumptuous building on the Grand Canal that was converted into a luxury hotel and underwent extensive renovations in 2013 (in order to withstand floods) show water-filled interiors, from the bar to the lobby.

Among the city's century-old frescoes, paintings and artifacts that may require extensive restorations efforts post-flood, contemporary works may also be damaged. Banksy's "Shipwrecked Girl" mural, which appeared last May on the popular Rio di Ca' Foscari canal, is under floodwater.

Venice flooded again 3 days after near-record high tide

  Venice flooded again 3 days after near-record high tide Waters are on the rise again Friday in Venice, where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. The high tide Friday is projected to peak at 1.60 meters (more than 5 feet) which is far beyond normal levels.

VENICE , Italy--If you've heard that this famous city, built on islands, is sinking, you've only heard part of the problem. Over the last 100 years, it has indeed lost 23 centimeters of land, but today, there are bigger problems facing Venice and seriously threatening its future .

VENICE , Italy--If you've heard that this famous city, built on islands, is sinking, you've only heard part of the problem. Over the last 100 years, it has indeed lost 23 centimeters of land, but today, there are bigger problems facing Venice and seriously threatening its future .

Some experts say, in order to understand the full extent of the floods' damage, waters will have to first subside.

"Venice is used to being constantly surrounded by water, but this is really something else," said Toto Bergamo Rossi, the director of Venetian Heritage, an organization that seeks to preserve the city's cultural patrimony, in a phone interview. "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."

Bergamo Rossi said that St. Mark's Basilica is currently the most badly affected, because it's one of the city's oldest buildings and therefore it sits lower than the rest of Venice. The restoration process will need to pump out the water as soon as possible, and probably wash the whole space multiple times to get rid of saltwater.

"Churches are also in bad shape. At the moment, they've basically turned into swimming pools. It's very sad. Many of them are quite low, and still use 18th century pews made of walnut wood. It'd be hard to save those from water damage," he added.

Venice is underwater — and a preview of what climate change will bring to coastal cities

  Venice is underwater — and a preview of what climate change will bring to coastal cities Climate scientists have said Venice is a harbinger of problems facing coastal cities as melting ice sheets and warming oceans raise sea levels to unprecedented heights. Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post“Venice is the pride of all of Italy,” Brugnaro said in a statement, the Associated Press reported, as officials said the city was 70 percent submerged. “Venice is everyone’s heritage, unique in the world.” St. Mark’s Square, the city’s famous piazza, was closed as seagulls swarmed the knee-high water. The flood rose to over six feet in some areas.

"Luckily, artifacts and collections seem to have been spared, as they aren't usually stored on the ground floor."

In the hope to protect their valuable collections, a number of cultural institutions, museums and even the Venice Biennale -- a months-long art and architecture showcase drawing international crowds -- have closed their doors to visitors.

On Wednesday, the Venice Biennale shut its Giardini and Arsenale exhibitions. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection also remained shut through Friday.

"Venice has been affected by extraordinarily high tides and finds itself now in a state of calamity and alert. Fortunately, the museum staff is well and safe, the museum and collections are safe and have not been damaged, but for security reasons and in order to deal with this emergency situation including some damages in the ticket office and shop, the museum is closed to the public today and tomorrow," director Karole P.B. Vail posted on Instagram. The Pinault Collection's two venues, the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana followed suit, as did Museo di Palazzo Grimani, which posted an image of its flooded courtyard on Instagram.

An uncertain future

Although the water receded temporarily on Wednesday, more bad weather arrived on Friday and is expected for the coming days, with forecasts anticipating tides of more than four feet.

But floods, as bad as they might be, are only part of the problem.

Made up of 118 islands, Venice sits on a tidal lagoon atop mud sediments that are shifting. Early industrial undertakings such as the construction of a bridge to the mainland and offshore piers affected the sea floor and tidal cycles in ways that made the city more vulnerable to flooding.

Venice floods threaten priceless artwork and history - and a unique way of life

  Venice floods threaten priceless artwork and history - and a unique way of life “The threat is if Venice becomes uninhabitable by normal humans beings."“This is certainly the moment to draw attention not to the cats of Venice but to its buildings, which are slowly but surely disintegrating,” the reader wrote.

In the 20th century challenges grew as huge amounts of water were pumped out from beneath the lagoon for industrial projects, causing land subsidence. The practice was halted in the 1970s, but rising sea levels -- linked to to climate change -- and the turbulent wash from heavy cruise ship traffic have further damaged the city's foundations, causing it to gradually sink.

Venice has spent over $6 billion to build a flood-barrier system, the MOSE, which aims to isolate the lagoon from seawater during high tides, while lessening the levels of the most frequent tides. First designed in 1984, works for the project began in 2003 and were expected to end in 2011. But construction has yet to be completed (the due date is now 2022), due to delays and a number of issues.

But while MOSE could buy the city some time (around three decades, according to environmental engineers) if and when it becomes functional, studies have showed that climate change might push Venice underwater within the next 100 years.

"The occurrence of exceptional high waters poses a significant threat to the protection and integrity of Venice lagoon and historic settlements," reads the UNESCO site. "These threats are recognized as a priority.

"My hope is that this tragedy will serve as a wake-up call for the Italian government and the world for what needs to be done in Venice," said Toto Bergamo Rossi.

"The MOSE has to be completed. Not in two years, but over the next months. Buildings, too, have to be guaranteed a better draining system, maintenance, material reinforcement. This could easily happen again, and we simply can't afford that. There's too much at risk."

America's many toxic waste sites are in areas at risk of worsening natural disasters .
The EPA needs to do more to address the risks that could pose to people's health, a watchdog group says.About 60% of more than 1,500 Superfund sites overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency are located in areas at risk of worsening flooding, storm surges, wildfires and sea level rise, the Government Accountability Office found a in a study released Monday.

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