A family takes a ride in a boat moving between cement blocks placed as reinforcement against rising water levels in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP)

A family takes a ride in a boat moving between cement blocks placed as reinforcement against rising water levels in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP)

Cement barriers look like giant toys. They reinforce the sea wall near the citadel in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP)

Cement barriers look like giant toys. They reinforce the sea wall near the citadel in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP)

Streets are flooded in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria. Rising sea levels threaten to swamp poorer neighborhoods and archaeological sites there. (AP)

Streets are flooded in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria. Rising sea levels threaten to swamp poorer neighborhoods and archaeological sites there. (AP)

An aerial photo shows beachgoers swimming and sunbathing in Alexandria. (AP)

An aerial photo shows beachgoers swimming and sunbathing in Alexandria. (AP)

Stanley Beach in Alexandria, Egypt, is compared to a 1933 photo of the same location. (AP)

Stanley Beach in Alexandria, Egypt, is compared to a 1933 photo of the same location. (AP)

Sinking Alexandria

Posted: November 1, 2019

The ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt, is sinking. And no one can stop it!

Where did artists and scholars go to meet with other thinkers 2,000 years ago? Alexandria, Egypt! It was the largest city in the known world.

Alexandria sits on an isthmus. That piece of land separates Lake Mariout from the Mediterranean Sea. The sea surrounds the city on the other three sides. Earthquakes and floods have taken their toll. Alexandria is sinking between one and three millimeters each year.

Today, upstream dams block the passage of silt from the Nile River. That silt helps to shore up the city. Homes in the el-Max neighborhood have flooded every winter in recent years.

Fisherman Sayed Khalil lives in el-Max. He says, “All these houses might vanish.” In twenty to thirty years they could be underwater.

Many of the city’s antiquities are in danger too. Qaitbay Citadel is a fortress. Authorities installed a long line of huge concrete barriers around the citadel. These could halt waves and currents from pushing into the citadel’s foundation.

Egypt’s government has set aside more than $120 million for those barriers and other measures to protect the shore.

Ashour Abdel-Karim is head of the General Authority for Shores Protection. He says, “Without such barriers, parts of the Corniche (downtown waterfront) and buildings close to the shore would be damaged.” That damage could come at a cost of nearly $25 billion.

Inland sites are also at risk. Catacombs from nearly 2,000 years ago flooded in 2015. Prophet Daniel Street in downtown Alexandria is considered one of the world’s oldest streets. It was closed for a week after that same flood.

You rule the raging sea; when its waves rise, you still them. — Psalm 89:9