Workers dismantle a makeshift walkway over the flooded St Mark's Square, as high tide reaches peak, in Venice, Italy, November 15 2019. REUTERS/FLAVIO LO SCALZO.
Workers dismantle a makeshift walkway over the flooded St Mark's Square, as high tide reaches peak, in Venice, Italy, November 15 2019. REUTERS/FLAVIO LO SCALZO.

Venice — Venice braced for another devastating high tide on Friday morning, as the lagoon city struggled with the wreckage left by the biggest surge of flood waters in 50 years earlier this week.

Authorities said they were expecting that waters would rise again and peak at 1.60m — past the emergency level that sets off sirens in the streets.

“Another day of alert for Venice. The sirocco wind keeps blowing. I invite all ... to keep yourselves updated on the level of the water,” mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter.

Brugnaro blamed climate change when flood waters swept through the city on Wednesday, swamping its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings.

Levels were due to peak at 10.20am GMT on Friday, then ease to 1.10m-1.20m over the weekend, tide forecast centre CPSM Venezia said. In normal conditions, levels of 80cm-90cm are generally seen as high but manageable.

Shopkeepers tried to shore up their businesses on Saint Mark's Square on Friday morning. Many said they had closed to customers 10 days ago when levels broke through the 1.10m threshold.

Snow was expected in the city of Belluno, in the northern part of the Veneto region, at the foot of the Dolomites, potentially aggravating the situation in Venice.

The national government declared a state of emergency for Venice on Thursday and allocated an initial €20m to address the immediate damage.

The government will hold an extraordinary meeting on November 26 to discuss “governance and the structural problems of the city”, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday in an interview with daily Corriere della Sera.

Reuters