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Sinking City of Venice

NOVA News Minutes
Drowning Cities
(running time 01:34)


Sinking City of Venice homepage

Transcript
May 9, 2003

NARRATOR: With hurricane season just weeks away, cities along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are preparing to once again face torrential downpours, flooded streets, and worse.

Joseph Suhayda, Coastal Engineer: Our primary problem is that we're subject to flooding both from rivers and from the Gulf of Mexico in terms of a storm surge in an area that is subsiding, sinking—in New Orleans, as much as one inch per year.

NARRATOR: Like New Orleans, the famous Italian city of Venice, as shown on PBS's NOVA, is sinking in similar ways—a victim of geography and climate change.

Charles McClennen, Professor of Geology: It was built on a salt marsh, at sea level, in a sinking area, and unfortunately sea level is rising.

NARRATOR: Storms push water into the city, forcing pedestrians to use impromptu high-rise sidewalks until the water drains back out to sea. But as spectacular and destructive as Venice's high waters can be, some experts fear New Orleans geography may invite larger floods.

Joseph Suhayda, Coastal Engineer: The flooding that threatens Venice is of a more chronic nature. New Orleans would be subject to a high level of threat associated with a hurricane storm surge that could in fact devastate or destroy the city.

NARRATOR: That's because 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level. In the event of a very severe hurricane—category 4 or 5—the city's levee system would not be able to keep massive surges out. The possible result of this nightmare scenario: a city drowned under more than 20 feet of water in places. A worrying prospect for New Orleans, which, like Venice, is engaged in a constant struggle with nature. I'm Brad Kloza.

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Sinking City of Venice Web Site Content
See the Gates in Action

See the Gates in Action
Watch a video about the proposed barriers designed to hold back the sea.

Venice Under Siege

Venice Under Siege
Use satellite images to zoom in on hazards imperiling the city.

Weighing the Solutions

Weighing the Solutions
How Venetians are dealing with sinking.

What Causes the Tides?

What Causes the Tides?
An animated explanation of tidal ebbs and flows.


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