“Exceptional” low tides have practically drained the canals in Venice when just two months earlier, the city suffered through severe flooding that caused over a billion euros worth of damage and left over two-thirds of the city underwater.
The flooding happened in November when the city was submerged in the highest water levels it had experienced in more than 50 years. Several landmarks such as St. Mark’s Square and Saint Mark’s Basilica were left underwater then.
The mayor of Venice blamed climate change for the “apocalyptic” floods that left behind “hundreds of millions” pounds of damage.
But now, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme with gondolas and boats left stranded on the ground as the canals the city is famed for were turned into dry and muddy trenches.
The water dipped as low as 45 centimeters below sea level in the afternoon and made it impossible to navigate some of the waterways.
Social media was awash with photos that showed despairing locals looking over the waterless canals with some boats settling down in the mud.
While not unique, low tides are a rare phenomenon in the city. The city is more used to floods but they were still caught flat-footed from November’s deluge.
Saint Mark’s Basilica had “suffered irreparable damage, especially in the lower section of the mosaics and tiling,” said Venice Archbishop Francesco Mraglia at a news conference.
It was just the sixth time the church had been flooded in 1,200 years. The water at the adjacent St. Mark’s Square was so deep that one man even managed to swim across.
Local residents and tourists alike were affected as boats were stranded, shops and hotels were battered, and many of Venice’s squares and alleyways deep underwater.
Saying that the floods were “the result of climate change,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro warned of massive damage when the waters peaked at almost 6ft 2in, practically a hair’s breadth from the record of 6ft 5in set in 1966.
Venetians have expressed anger that corruption has resulted in delays to a long-planned flood protection barrier.
One man in his 70’s was electrocuted on the barrier island of Pellestrina when water entered his home. The city also recorded one more fatality.
Speaking to Italian media, Luca Zaia, the premier of the Veneto region, said the city was “faced with total, apocalyptic devastation.”
He added: “I’m not exaggerating – 80 percent of the city is underwater, the damage is unimaginable.”