Venice Underwater: Massive Floods Engulf City

Image: Luca Bruno/AP

by Miro Korenha and Alexandra Patel

Venice called a state of emergency on Wednesday morning as flooding of the city’s famous canals reached levels that haven’t been witnessed in 50 years. Heavy rains caused waters to rise over 6 feet, inundated 85% of the city (including the historic St Mark’s basilica), and caused 2 deaths. Only last year the city saw major flooding which cost the city almost $2.42 million in damages. People around the world have anxiously watched as priceless art and architecture was inundated by the rising tide. For reference, St. Mark’s has flooded just six times in 1,200 years, and four of those floods were in the last 20.

Why This Matters: Since the 19th century, Venice has experienced a rise in sea levels of around 11 inches resulting in worsening flooding. According to a study conducted by the Mediterranean World Heritage in 2018, Venice is currently one of the most at-risk cities from climate-induced flooding Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro did not mince words, he was adamant that what his city is experiencing is a climate catastrophe:

“Venice is on its knees,” Brugnaro said in a tweet reported by the Associated Press. “St. Mark’s Basilica has sustained serious damage like the entire city and its islands.”


Go Deeper: Venice, despite its history of flooding, has taken over 15 years to construct a $6.3 billion flood barrier, the MOSE project, that was started in 2003. MOSE has, so far, cost upwards of 5.5 billion euros, and has long been mired in cost issues, delays, corruption scandals, and criticism. The costly piece of infrastructure angered Italians as it seems to have completely failed to prevent flooding. It’s a scary thought that for some cities there may not be a solution for rising seas.

Even Deeper: Since tourism is the main source of income for the city, residents are worried about the impact this sort of flooding will have on the local economy–a concern many cities will have to grapple with.



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