Two People Have Died in Venice Floods as City Declares State of Emergency (Video)
“It hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage compromised, its business activities on its knees.”
Venice's "acqua alta" has turned into a fatal event as the breathtaking city will declare a state of emergency to access funds for relief.
“We are not just talking about calculating the damages, but of the very future of the city’’ the Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, told reporters, per The Associated Press. He also described “untold damages, to houses, shops, activities, not to mention monuments and works of art. We risked our lives as well.”
He also said the floods will leave a "permanent mark" on the city.
The flooding has resulted in two deaths on the Venetian Island of Pallestrina. One man was fatally electrocuted while trying to start a water pump in his home.
Water levels rose to over five feet above sea level. Damage is expected to be hundreds of millions of euros’ worth because of the cultural value of many of the affected artifacts including the ancient crypts St. Mark’s Basilica. The basilica has only flooded six times in 1,200 years — but four of those times have been within the past 20 years.
Francesco Moraglia, the archbishop of Venice told The Guardian that St. Marks had suffered “structural damage, because the water has risen. This is causing irreparable harm, especially – when it dries out – in the lower section of the mosaics and tiling.”
The Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, also posted a heartfelt message on Facebook which translates to, "It hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage compromised, its commercial activities on its knees."
The economy of Venice relies almost entirely on tourism.
"Small business owners and vendors in the city were appealing to tourists, many of whom had left the city after the water levels rose, to return," The BBC reported. "One merchant told the mayor that his business relied on tourism, but that his kiosk was swept away by the tide."
Tourists and workers alike are walking on elevated footbridges to get around the city while wearing thigh-high rain boots.
Venice floods every year during a time known as “acqua alta” but this year’s flooding has reached disastrous levels, which politicians are linking to climate change and residents fear isn't over due to the expected snowfall.