Destructive floods threaten historical Italian sites

Rising water levels leave parts of the country in a state of emergency. (YouTube)

By Anandita Mehta
Staff Writer

Italy faces historic flooding from a thunderstorm and hurricane system on Oct. 29 that affected the country from Sicily, an island in the southern part of the country, to the Piedmont region, in the north, according to The New York Times.

Twenty-nine people have died as a result of the flooding and 14 million trees were uprooted across Italy due to high speed winds, according to Express.

As a result of the flooding, 11 of Italy’s 20 regions declared a state of emergency, with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declaring an orange alert, which refers to high tides, for the entire country, according to Express.

The flooding was the result of a seasonal high tide and low pressure system circulating in Southern Europe, CNN reported.

In Venice, fierce winds blowing at 112 mph brought the high tide to 61 inches above average sea level, according to The New York Times.

Although these floodwaters were at the highest level they have been in a decade, they were not the highest the city of Venice has ever seen. In 1966, floodwaters reached 76 inches, the city’s all time high, according to The New York Times.

Conte is also planning on providing an aid package worth $174 million for the country’s “clean-up bill,” which totals to approximately $3.5 billion, according to Express.

A spokesman for Venice’s Civil Protection Agency explained to CNN that a flood barrier system known as the Moses Project could have alleviated some of the flood water damage from the storm system. However, the project is not yet completed.

The New Venice Consortium, which is responsible for the construction of the Moses Project, stated that the system, which began in 2003, is about 92 to 93 percent complete, according to CNN.

Members of the board managing St. Mark’s Basilica and the Venetian Heritage Foundation are concerned about the lasting damage saltwater flooding has on historic buildings which will only show in time, according to The New York Times.

Toto Bergamo Rossi, director of the Venetian Heritage Foundation, reflected on the irony of how Venice grew rich from the salt trade, but salt is now the city’s enemy as it slowly damages historic sights such as cafes, gardens and other city treasures, The New York Times reported.

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