Venice – St. Mark’s Square in Venice was under water on Tuesday as newly installed mobile artificial dams failed to operate. Residents – who have long been accustomed to perennial “aqua alta” or high water events – once again pulled on their rubber boots to cope with the flood, which reached 4.5 feet above sea level in the afternoon.
St. Mark’s Square, the lowest part of the Renaissance city, about three feet above sea level, was submerged and the famous basilica was invaded because many shopkeepers blocked their entrances with wooden panels to keep the water out.
A large flood protection system called MOSE was finally installed in October to protect Venice’s lake during high tides.
The network of water-filled seasons is designed to lift within 30 minutes, creating a barrier capable of resisting heights ten feet higher than normal.
But on Tuesday the system failed to function because the forecast predicted a rise of only four feet above sea level.
“A big forecast is needed to implement MOSE,” Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told Italian news agency Aki.
“We need to review the rules of the command post.”
The water reached a height of six feet above sea level on November 12, 2019, one of the highest ever recorded. Dozens of churches of UNESCO World Heritage status were damaged.
The MOSE infrastructure project began in 2003, but has suffered from rising costs, corruption and delays.
The project will cost seven billion euros ($ 8 billion), an original estimate of two billion.
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