Sea level rise, erosion and cruise ships are worsening Venice’s flood problem. But corruption nearly scuppered the solution. By Neal E Robbins
I was in Venice when the acqua alta
struck on 28 October 2018. I noted in my diary: “It happened today. The first big acqua alta of the year, with a siren at 09.17, followed by two steady tones. One tone is for 1.1 metres, two 1.2 metres, three 1.3 metres and four 1.4 metres or more. The tidal chart says the level should peak just after noon. At 12.30 I put on my green rubber boots. Stepping out along the canals, I found the water above my ankles and immediately had to re-learn how to walk. Walking at normal speed causes the water to splash over your boots and on to your legs. I slowed down, finding I also needed to watch out for little waves from the boats on the canal, which rode up right over the submerged pavement.
“Tourists used bin bags or fluorescent pink plastic booties over their shoes, walked barefoot or just got their shoes wet. Judging by the laughs and picture taking, high water looked fun, but not for the tourists who held heavy suitcases to their chests to keep them dry as they walked. One woman, who had given up, was dragging hers through the water. They looked really stressed. People carried small dogs and children, while a man hefted an old woman on to one of the raised board walkways set up for pedestrians. Many shops are open, some with thigh-high ‘flood’ barriers at the door, even as clerks mop up, pushing water out with wiper blades on sticks or setting up pumps to spew water back out on to the street. In a pizzeria, waiters shuffled through the water to serve customers.Deep trouble: can Venice hold back the tide?
The long read: Sea level rise, erosion and cruise ships are worsening Venice’s flood problem. But corruption nearly scuppered the solutionwww.theguardian.com