The highly anticipated flood barriers installed around Venice to prevent floods from ravaging the city have proven effective this Saturday.
Each year between October and March the waters of Venice’s lagoon surge and flood the city streets when the tide is high in a phenomenon called aqua alta. The floods force businesses to close and everyone to raise their furniture to avoid as much damage as possible. This year, however, the 78 flood barriers installed to hold back the water worked and the city stayed mostly dry.
Although the flood barriers — called the MOSE Experimental Electromechanical Module Project — were tested over the summer, this weekend saw their greatest trial yet. With a 53-inch tide on Saturday, waters which should have flooded most of the city were held back by the yellow barriers, and even St. Mark’s Square was left with nothing but a few puddles. Cafes and shops, which are usually forced to close due to the tides, remained open. It’s the first time in approximately 1,200 years that such a tide does not flood the city.
The project has been in the works since 2003 but due to a series of delays and corruption scandals hasn’t debuted until now. And the project isn’t finished yet; some final infrastructures, such as raised pavements and permanent defense walls, are slated to be completed by December 2021.
The barriers will be raised every time the high tide reaches 51 inches, but on Sunday, one day after MOSE’s success, the tide reached over 40 inches, the barriers were not raised, and St. Mark’s Square, which floods at 35 inches, was underwater again.