Floodwaters engulf Venice again 3 days after near-record high tide

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By Saphora Smith and Erin McLaughlin and Mac William Bishop  with NBC News World News
Image: Municipality workers carry wooden boards to make a trestle bridge in
Municipality workers carry wooden boards to make a trestle bridge in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice on Friday.   -  Copyright  Luca Bruno

VENICE, Italy — The murky brown water was thigh-high and still rising in Venice's Saint Mark's Basilica Friday morning as yet another "acqua alta" engulfed this lagoon city.

High tide was expected at just before 10:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. ET) and predicted to reach over 5 feet — less than the 6 feet 2 inches it hit Tuesday, but still exceptionally high.

Even as Venetians attempt to recover from floodsthat washed through the city's winding streets earlier this week, they are already beginning to deal with the next disaster.

Many blame climate change, corruption and greed for allowing the floodwater to ravage local businesses, homes and even the city's historic Saint Mark's Basilica. A project to build a sea barrier to defend the city is still not completed more than 50 years after the government asked engineers to draw up plans.

Gondolier Roberto Nardin, who makes his living on the water, says he is outraged.

"The sea is rising, this is not in ten or fifteen years. This is now," said Nardin, whose gondola hit a lamppost. "The only thing we can do is be here and hope."

The government declared a state of emergency on Wednesdayto help swiftly secure the city funds to repair the destruction already wrought earlier this week. The water level on Tuesday was two inches shy of matching the highest levels on record — the devastating 6 feet 4 inches surge of November 1966.

But despite the millions of euros of damage, some Venetians say they are determined to stay put no matter what.

Matteo Rado, who owns a restaurant with a view of the main waterfront, told Reuters he would never consider giving up and moving out even if the waters continue to rise.

"To say: 'That's enough of Venice'? Never," he said.

Saphora Smith reported from London, Erin McLaughlin and Mac Bishop reported from Venice.