By Oisin Sweeney •
Published: 09 Dec 2020 • 10:36
VENICE was hit by floods on Tuesday when the city’s multi-billion euro dam defense system failed to activate.
The Italian lagoon city saw waters rise to 1.37 metres (4.5 ft), causing floods on its central St Mark’s Square which lies a metre below sea level. Water poured into the iconic basilica, and Venetians were forced to don their familiar rubber boots to wade into the rising water, known locally as ‘acqua alta’.
Shopkeepers erected wooden panels over their doorways to prevent damage to their wares, similar to scenes in November 2019 when Venice hit its highest flood levels since record began. Waters rose to 1.87 metres (6 ft), causing serious damage to several UNESCO protected heritage sites and destroying multiple businesses.
The MOSE dam system, a sophisticated infrastructure project that cost taxpayers 7 billion euro, failed yet again to activate properly. The mobile dams are designed to rise within 20 minutes to protect the city from waters up to 3 metres in height.
However, it needs 48 hours’ notice to take action and the forecast for Tuesday did not anticipate high levels of water. Venice’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said ‘to activate MOSE a bigger forecast is necessary’.
The MOSE system began construction in 2003, with an expected cost of 2 billion. However, a decade and a half of corruption, overspending, and delays meant it cost over three times that and was only completed in October this year.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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