Acqua alta, one month later


[Ed. Note: this survey by Gruppo 25 Aprile of the unresolved flood damage in Venice one month after the acqua granda of 12 November gives us a stark image – schools, post offices and banks closed, businesses ruined and people forced out of their homes. This wasn’t just high water, it was fast, destructive water: “The waves at 22:45 on 12 November broke through the door and came in the windows..”]

Acqua alta, one month later

On this page we have always tried to keep our distance from two extremes: “feeling sorry for ourselves” as though nothing had been done in the past 30 days, and the opposite excess. which is “minimizing” as though nothing had happened or even, as a video that is circulating on social media says, that this was just “yet another acqua alta”. No, it wasn’t, and the extent of the exceptional event exceeded all predictions.

The rescue machinery has functioned, and the process of reimbursements has been set in motion for those who want to request aid towards restoring a place’s functionality (which is different than seeking compensation for damages, which is explicitly excluded). That which follows, therefore, is not a “book of grievances” but a simple and certainly incomplete census of the problems that remain a month after the second highest acqua alta of all time.

Examples of still unresolved problems

The two most sensational issues outstanding are:

  • Ca’ Pesaro is still cold and dark, and had to send its Klimts to Vicenza, and
  • The children of Dorsoduro are still forced to go to the XXV Aprile school in Sacca Fisola (!!!) because the Santa Teresa school is still closed.

Among the problem situations pointed out by people within the group are:

  • The damage to the book Archive of the Centro Internazionale della Grafica di Venezia: many books among these handcrafted editions have been lost .
  • The Printing shop of Paolo Olbi at the Collegio Armeno of Ca’ Zenobio has suffered great damage. There are historic printing machines there.
  • Carpenter’s shop behind S. Giamcomo dell’Orio: “The Carpentry Shop” lost machinery and materials running in to tens of thousands of Euro.
  • There are still inactive ACTV stops, such as Santa Maria del Giglio and Arsenale (on the first of December, the date of the referendum, there were far more, and the total of damaged stops was twenty); the stops at S. Elena and Giardini are half closed, due to which some lines don’t stop there, such as line 6.
  • Elevators and heating are out of service at the Giustinian district health offices.
  • Flu vaccines ended up under water and are no longer available at some primary care clinics.
  • Post offices: those on via Garibaldi and fondamenta del Gaffaro remain closed.
  • Giudecca and Murano: the Poste ATMs in both of these post offices are out of service.
  • Banca Intesa on riva Martira was destroyed, or almost; on the riva da Largo Marinai d’Italia, up to S. Elena, the wall and the columns are cordoned and wrapped with ribbons; the cubes of marble frame of the monument to the Partigiana are still in water.
  • The Unicredit branch at the Zattere is closed including the ATM. The Banca Intesa branch on via Garibaldi and ATM are not yet accessible.
  • The gymnasium at the Sanudo school is unusable until a date to be determined. The Edda Marcialis dance school closed for two weeks.
  • The library of Villa Groggia at Sant’Alvise is still closed.
  • In the barber shop in campo della Lana, where a complete restoration was done last year, there is damaged furniture, ruined wooden doors, the washing machine had to be thrown away and there is damage to the electrical system. On top of this the missed 10 days of income due to the repeated acque alte in the days after 12 November.
  • Unfortunately there are many examples like this.
  • Many bread bakers had to close, and some have not reopened.
  • The ground floors of many homes are still unusable, and some members of this group have found hospitality from others, but the human drama taking place in some homes owned by the city, where particularly fragile people live, deserves a separate chapter.

To conclude this preliminary accounting, we offer two testimonies, one from a craftsman’s shop and one from a family.

I) This was the experience in campo Santa Maria Mater Domini at ellemme graphics:

“With about 65 cm of water inside the printing shop we lost the two historic Heidelberg machines, one a printing press and one an offset lithograph, respectively 73 and 53 years old, with which we still print about 50 percent of our work.

I can’t explain to you how we feel about these two beasts.

Also a good part of the lead characters were not saved, but this is less serious given how often we use them…

Unfortunately also our digital printer (an investment that we upgraded at the beginning of this year) must be completely replaced. Then the bromograph (a machine to impress offset printing plates) was completely flooded and has to be replaced.

Also the paper cutter, a machine that is just as indispensable as the others. But I still can’t tell you if it’s been damaged.

A great deal of paper, most of which were works in assembly for delivery, almost all lost.

Finally part of the electrical system has to be redone.

We don’t have financial reserves, like many artisan businesses we kept ourselves afloat.


II) This testimony comes from the Giudecca:

Water level 120, Giudecca. The waves at 22:45 on 12 November broke through the door and came in the windows, obviously rendering the system of pumps normally used during acque alte useless. The level inside the apartment is well marked by the hanging apron. All the furniture was knocked over by the waves. The picture was taken with some order restored. It took 9 volunteers and three days of work to completely empty the apartment, which remains unusable for another month.


Post Scriptum:

An invitation to those who want to send help or those who already have: ask if the use of the funds is accounted for in detail, because it would be truly be sad is in these circumstances that there would be some who tried to exploit it under the guise of solidarity provoked by television images. At the same time, don’t think “everything is already fine” because it isn’t: the maximum public aid is actually $5000 euro for families and 20,000 for businesses, and this will come only after several months and the presentation of “settled invoices”. In some cases, such as that of the graphics shop mentioned above, the maximum is clearly insufficient.

For those who want to make a contribution directly to the ellemme graphics shop, please use the link below.







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