France - One person died and authorities listed some 20 as missing Saturday after heavy storms lashed southern France and northern Italy with hundreds of aid workers deployed to villages cut off by the deluge. Italian civil protection officials said a 53-year-old volunteer firefighter died in the Aosta Valley as severe flooding hit the country’s northwest after torrential rain overnight. Regional authorities said 11 people were missing in the Piedmont region, where several villages were cut off after the downpour rendered roads impassable. They said the situation was “extremely critical.” Authorities in Venice expected the city -- which also suffered violent storms in August -- to be submerged by an ‘acqua alta’, an occasional tidal peak coming in from the Adriatic to reach the Venetian Lagoon and flood as far as the iconic Saint Mark’s Square.

But a complex network of 78 artificial dykes put up across the city kept the waters out.