By Ms. Maria Cavins (IMCOM Europe)December 10, 2019
VICENZA, Italy (Dec. 10, 2019) -- On Friday and Saturday Dec. 6-7, Soldiers, Airmen, military Families, and Civilians of the Vicenza Military Community participated in a two-day clean-up of Venice following widespread flooding during the annual 'acqua alta', or high water, that struck the iconic island city on Nov. 12.
This is the second most devastating acqua alta in Venice history since 1966 when floodwaters topped out above six feet.
According to organizers, the 'Save Venice' event was an enriching challenge for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Vicenza team. BOSS is a dynamic Department of the Army program, which engages single Soldiers through peer-to-peer leadership to enhance their quality of life through community service and recreational activities. Fifteen Airmen, 14 Soldiers, and three military Family members and Civilians assisted the city of Venice in this project.
"It was an honor to be able to help our neighbors in Venice after the damage from the floods," said Joseph 'Rodger' Nuttall, BOSS Vicenza Advisor.
The volunteers moved heavy and soiled mattresses, washer machines, refrigerators, couches, and driftwood from the Santa Croce district on to five large garbage barges. They were welcomed into Venetians' homes to carry out furniture.
"Seeing people come out of their homes to personally thank us for helping alleviate work on them, after they have gone through so much, was especially rewarding," said Nuttall, who high-fived an older Italian woman.
For 1600 years, Venice has influenced humanity with its contribution in history for art and music. After the unfortunate heavy rains, much of that artistic heritage was unsalvageable.
City Councilor for the Environment Massimiliano De Martin welcomed the volunteers as they arrived to Venice.
"Living in Venice provides you an opportunity to do a survival course over the years. You have to live every day with the water that rises and grows. The houses are based on foundations that are very ancient," explained De Martin.
Trash collection has been an ancient challenge in Venice for centuries. There are no common spaces where trash is compiled. Because of the small walkways, all trash collection is done by hand to load into boats.
Venice's waste management company, Veritas, reorganizes space to make sure that trash assortment is done every single day, seven days a week, despite the challenges of the tides or weather conditions. Large-scale strategic organization is critical to the survival of Venice.
"Being able to count on a clean city means making it decent even for the millions of tourists who come to visit it," De Martin said. "Aside from today's engagement, I hope you can bring back to base and to the United States not just the beautiful images of Venice, but the true essence of Venice and its resiliency."
The BOSS Vicenza team support was assisted by the office of the Italian Base Commander on Caserma Ederle, where U.S. Army Garrison Italy is headquartered.