Venice suffers worst flooding since 1966

Robie de Guzman   •   November 14, 2019   •   740

A view of flooding caused by bad weather in Venice, northern Italy, 13 November 2019. A wave of bad weather has hit much of Italy on 12 November. Levels of 100-120cm above sea level are fairly common in the lagoon city and Venice is well-equipped to cope with its rafts of pontoon walkways. EPA-EFE/ANDREA MEROLA

ROME – Around 80% of Venice is underwater in what has been described as “apocalyptic devastation.”

Those were the words of President of Veneto Luca Zaia as Italian authorities scrambled to tackle the worst flooding in the canal city since 1966.

“Venice is on its knees. St. Mark’s Basilica been severely damaged and so has the rest of the city and its islands,” Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro said following one of the most testing nights in the exposed city’s recent history.

The mayor told a press conference that he had met with people in tears “because they had lost everything” and that it was now time for a “historic response” to save one of Italy’s most popular destinations.

The Italian city has experienced its worst flooding in four decades amid an exceptionally high tide.

The phenomenon, known in the popular tourist destination as high waters (acqua alta), saw parts of the city covered by 187 centimeters (73.6 inches) of seawater late Tuesday and buffeted by strong winds.

In 1966, water levels peaked at 194cm.

The city’s warning sirens blared three times overnight and the damage wrought by the high waters was plain to see, although the exact damage to the famous city will be revealed once the flooding has subsided.

Gondolas and boats have been torn from their moorings and three vaporetti, waterbus, had capsized and another was adrift.

At least 60 vessels have been damaged, according to initial reports.

Shops, restaurants, and hotels in the city center have also been completely flooded.

The adverse conditions also claimed the life of a 78-year-old man who was electrocuted when he tried to start a generator at his house on the island of Pellestrina, south of the city.

Venice authorities have called on the central Italian government to declare a regional state of natural disaster and to prepare assistance for damages.

In response, the executive said it would discuss “necessary and urgent intervention to protect citizens” at the next cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and several ministers have traveled to the city.

All schools in Venice and its islands were closed on Wednesday while areas like St. Mark’s Square were off-limits to tourists.

“It is devastation,” the director of the Venetian Hoteliers Association, Claudio Scarpa, told reporters.

“The damages are enormous and unfortunately it does not look like it is about to stop, the high tide is ongoing.

“The electrical panels at the hotel have tripped and therefore the pumps cannot be used to draw the water.”

Italy’s Civil Protection service said 130 firefighters were deployed to Venice.

Experts have warned that the high waters were expected to continue throughout the week with another peak of 138cm recorded on Wednesday morning.

The fate of St. Mark’s Basilica, which was severely damaged by flooding in October 2018 and was still undergoing restoration, was a major concern for city authorities.

Overnight, the water levels hit 110cm and submerged the crypt of the building.

Once the flooding recedes, conservation teams can evaluate the damage caused by saltwater to valuable mosaics and marble.

Patriarch of Venice Francesco Moraglia said at a press conference he had never seen flooding like that which hit the area overnight.

He added that waves were rolling across St. Mark’s square.

La Fenice opera house was also damaged in the flooding, but its main stage escaped unscathed so far.

The damage could push back the inauguration of the opera season set to start on 24 November.

The Culture Ministry has ordered a crisis unit to protect Venice’s cultural heritage.

As the flooding crept through the city, fresh controversy arose once again about the delay to the flood-defense system currently being constructed where the city meets the Adriatic Sea.

Known as the MOSE project, the mobile levy system designed to protect the Venetian lagoon was due to be finished in 2018 but was pushed back to 2022.

At a cost of more than five billion euros, the system aims to protect the city from high tides up to three meters.

The MOSE project has come under criticism by environmentalist groups and was even the center of a corruption scandal that saw the former mayor and 34 others forced to resign. – EFE-EPA / Cristina Cabrejas

ccg/jt/rb

Garbage still main cause of flooding in NCR — MMDA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Garbage is still the main cause of flooding in the National Capital Region (NCR), according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. reported there are low areas in the NCR that are prone to flooding but other areas have clogged drainages due to wastes.

He also said that the MMDA is repairing and declogging the pumping stations for the flood water to go to Pasig River.

Sa ngayon ay ginagawa natin ang mga pumping station para i-pump out ang mga tubig na bumabaha. Pero paano mo ipa-pump out kung talagang heavy ang siltation, barado dahil sa basura” he said.

(Presently, we are repairing the pumping stations to pump out the floodwater. But how will you pump it out if there is heavy siltation and it’s clogged due to the garbage.)

In San Andres Pumping Station, around 8 to 10 cubic meters of garbage are collected per day during the rainy season.

The MMDA reminds the public to avoid throwing garbage on the streets. -AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.) 

PCG rescues stranded residents amid heavy flooding in Palawan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 16, 2021

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) assisted in the rescue of 50 residents in El Nido, Palawan amid flooding.

Barangay Manlag, El Nido, Palawan was submerged in floodwater, following torrential rainfall that started at around 7:00 p.m. on Thursday (July 15). The PCG rescued a total of 50 residents, including two infants.

PCG District Palawan Commander, Commodore Genito Basilio said he immediately deployed personnel and assets to assist the local government units of El Nido and other concerned government agencies in ensuring the safety of affected residents.

“Despite our pressing mandate and firm commitment to ensure maritime security and maritime safety in the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group, rest assured the PCG District Palawan and Coast Guard vessels under the Task Force Pagsasanay will always be there to render humanitarian assistance to the people of Palawan,” he said.

The PCG also dispatched personnel to assist rescue and evacuation efforts in Barangay Pasadeña, Barangay Barotuan, and Barangay Libertad. It also assisted a motorbanca who experienced engine trouble during the heavy rainfall.

As of July 16, majority of the rescued residents were able to return to their homes after floodwater subsided in El Nido. AAC

1 dead, 15,900 families affected by flooding in Negros Occidental

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — At least one person died and over 15,000 families were affected and after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding in Negros Occidental last Friday (January 1).

According to the latest report of the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division, 15,900 families from the cities of Victorias, Silay, Talisay, EB Magalona were affected after heavy rainfall.

Meanwhile, a 26-year-old man was found dead in Barangay 6-A in Victorias City.

A total of 424 houses were damaged; 351 of which were totally damaged, while 73 were only partially damaged.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and other various rescue groups immediately responded to the situation. The local government also provided relief goods to the families affected by the flood.

Meanwhile, all roads are now passable and water and power supply in the affected areas have been restored. AAC (with reports from Lalaine Moreno)

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