Deadly storms across Italy have brought Venice face-to-face with one of the city’s worst floods in at least a decade — leaving residents, store owners, and tourists alike fending off knee-high flood water.
New photos of the flooding show tourists and residents in boots trudging through the ancient city.
But flooding in Venice is nothing new.
A few times during winter, strong winds push water from the Adriatic Sea into the Venetian Lagoon, causing high tides and minor but widespread flooding across the ancient island.
However, every so often, the floods surpass normal levels and become a major hazard to everyone on the island and officials will sound sirens to warn the island that something more serious is coming.
This week, the flood sirens rang loud from one of the 15 designated bell towers within the city.
Some of the parts of the the city most severely affected by the floods are the historic Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge which include structures that are centuries old.
Floods like this used to be few and far between.
But now major floods happen around once every four years, and scientists think that human-caused climate change is at least in part to blame.
Plus, it doesn’t help that the petrified logs holding the city afloat are sinking. Venice has reportedly sunk 6 feet since the city’s medieval heyday.
In order to avert continuous catastrophe, back in 2003 the Italian government began working on Project Mose — Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico — to help curb the effects of sea level rise on Venice.
The idea was to create three barriers to blockade the flow of water from the Adriatic into the Venetian Lagoon. The barriers would shut when scientists expected the highest tides.
So far, two of the three have been completed, with a third one approaching completion in the coming years.
The project should be finished within the next two or three years.
In the meantime, Venice has other mechanisms in place to defend against the floods.
Drains are in every city square. Lifted walkways are put in place.
Homes and storefronts, especially those facing the lagoon, have 1 foot barriers on their front doors, or their doors are lifted off the ground entirely.
The 5 foot tide is expected to lessen throughout the rest of the week so hopefully Venice will have time to recover before it has to sound the flood alarms again.