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Venice, Italy experiencing worst flood in 53 years

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Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro surveys the flood
Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro surveys the flood. Photo: Luigi Brugnaro, Twitter.

Venice is an Italian city that is famous because it has canals instead of roads. Instead of cars and taxis, boats take people around the city.

Recently, however, its waters rose dramatically due to unusually high tides and very strong winds. Water has flooded into homes, restaurants, stores and other buildings.

At more than 1.5 metres, it is the worst flood in Venice in 53 years.

Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said on Twitter that the flood is directly related to climate change. He suggested Venice as a starting-point for more study about how climate change is affecting the world.

Hundreds of volunteers are helping people who have been affected by the flood. Schools had been closed, but were expected to be open again next week.

“Since records began in 1872, that level had never been reached even twice in one year, let alone three times in one week,” according to an article posted by CBC News.

The city’s famous St. Mark’s Square (called Piazzo San Marco, in Italian) has been hit hard by the flood. Police have put up barriers to keep people out of the square.

People in Venice are posting on social media videos and photos of locals and tourists wearing tall rubber boots and shopping and eating in restaurants, with the water up to their knees.

According to BBC meteorologist Nikki Berry, the flooding was caused by “a combination of high spring tides and a meteorological storm surge driven by strong sirocco winds blowing north-eastwards across the Adriatic Sea.”

Think and Discuss

Many people are in Venice, helping with the flood. What kinds of things do you think they are doing? What do the people of Venice need: right now? two weeks from now? two months from now? two years from now?

During a natural crisis like a flood, many people post information, photos and videos on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook). Do you think this is useful, or not useful? List some of the pros (good things) and cons (bad things) about social media during a natural crisis.

If you were the mayor of Venice, what would you be doing during this very serious time for the city?

Schools in Venice were closed for several days because of the flood. In North America, schools are sometimes closed for a “snow day” when there is a lot of snow in the wintertime. How are these situations the same and how are they different?

Links

This BBC article quotes Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro about climate change and includes more information from meteorologist Nikki Berry: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50401308

CBC article about the flood: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/venice-declares-state-of-emergency-apocalyptic-floods-1.5358111