Last November, Venice experienced the worst flooding the city has ever seen in the past 50 years. More than two-thirds of the city was underwater, and it took almost two months for the water to completely recede. The estimated cost of damages was around 1 billion euros.
Now, Venice is looking to prepare itself for the next high tide. On Friday, 78 inflatable flood barriers were tested in the canals. They are designed to protect against waters reaching three meters high. The flooding last November was just shy of two meters.
This project referred to as Moses, the biblical figure who parted the Red Sea, isn’t new to the city. In fact, construction began in 2003 before corruption charges brought the project to a halt. Venice attempted to restart back in 2011 but has continued to battle various delays. City officials are now saying the barrier project will be up and running by 2021.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was on-site Friday to test the inflatable devices. He told reporters it high time this project was finished, and it was shameful how much corruption has prevented the barriers earlier completion.
“We all have to hope that it works,” said Conte.
The flood gates are hinged to cement blocks placed on the seabed. When activated, The giant yellow barriers rise into place as compressors pump air to fill them. These barriers will eventually be installed at the three canal entrances leading into the sea. Project Moses has cost the city almost six billion euros so far.
Meanwhile, protesters gathered near the testing site to force their concerns over the environmental impact these devices will have. Activists are worried this project will upset the canals already fragile ecosystems.
Thus far, their objections have been ignored, and Venice plans to proceed with the installation.