Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Day of Remembrance

This morning at 3:32 a.m. the bells of L'Aquila tolled resonantly, pealing 308 times for each victim of the earthquake that ravaged this city one year ago.  More than 20,000 people braved the high-altitude night chill and threatening rain to gather and commemorate the moment that changed their lives and their city forever. 

They snaked through the rubble-strewn centro storico in a solemn torch and candle-lit procession, making their way to the Piazza Duomo.  At 4:00 a.m. a mass was held inside the severely damaged Basilica, with big screens set up in the piazza to bring the message of hope and perseverance to the overflowing crowd.

While the tendopoli have been dismantled and prefabricated houses have been set up, they are temporary shelters far removed from the city, in "non places" that lack public transit connections, grocery stores, restaurants and gathering spots.  The residents are housed but they are not at home.  They are in a sort of limbo in a hinterland; the heart of their community has been destroyed and they do not yet have a place to regain that sense of being and belonging that they need and crave.  The centro is still overflowing with 4 1/2 million tons of rubble and the residents are not allowed to enter their old neighborhoods, their piazzas, their homes.

The earth-jarring, life-shattering quake took place one year ago.  The aftershocks have ceased, the victims have been buried, the survivors have carried on, but tremors of displacement, disillusion and devastation continue to rock their world.

Today I bow my head and pause to remember; I stand with the Aquilani to tell them that they are not forgotten.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Related Links:
Dear Davide:  A touching letter from 12-year old Sofia to a classmate who died in the earthquake.

3:32 a.m.:  Eleonora's experience during the earthquake and her time in Abruzzo.

Then and Now:  A photographic slideshow of scenes comparing them from a year ago to today.

Abruzzo: Un Anno Dopo il Terremoto - a report on the state of the area one year later (in Italian)

Adopt a Student from Abruzzo.  NIAF continues their support of Abruzzo students to help them continue their studies.

The Eagle is Slowly Rising.  My previous blog entries about L'Aquila.

** Post Edited 4/7/10 to add photos of the MAPs (Moduli Abitativi Provvisori, modular provisional housing units).  They are clumped together and located in rural areas or villages outside of L'Aquila.  A list of those locales is posted on the Protezione Civile website.   As the photos show, these are rapidly-constructed temporary dwellings, resembling glorified Tuff-sheds on concrete slabs.  They are certainly better than tents, but they do not embody or encourage the sense of "home" and place that make a community.


Stella Pesci said...

Thank you for this post...my grandfather was from L'Aquila, and I still feel the ripple effects of that earthquake. My thoughts are with everyone there today...thank you for sharing the information.
Stella xx

Eleonora said...

I have linked to your post today.

marybeth said...

Ciao bella e grazie mille: a moving tribute to a sad memory.

tanti abbracci,

lakeviewer said...

Yes, let's not forget that people's lives are forever changed when the earth shakes under them.

Valerie said...

Thanks for your heartfelt comments and remembrances today.

Eleonora - Thanks for linking and giving me a heads-up about your post. I've added it to my links.

LindyLouMac said...

Valerie, thankyou for this post, you and Eleonora both express yourself so much better than I am able to, so I am linking to both your posts from mine today.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Valerie, El-Jazeera had a program last night about the temporary housing and the closing of the tent camps. The people are remarkable. One man said that the heart of l'Aquila is broken. He is still in his home, with wooden poles all over the place keeping the thing up. His mother told him "you can fix everything, death is the only thing you can't fix". One woman said that for a woman, the home is the key to everything, and without true homes, all the women are just floating, trying to find something to attach themselves to.

The aftershocks are not just geophysical. They will come for years.

Thank you for your post.

sammy said...

Thank you so much for alerting English speakers to the difficult limbo that so many people are in. Officials use the word 'temporary' but that is little conmfort to so many. Let's hope the central & local govts try soon to give a time line of when the limbo will end and life begins properly again that would be real comfort

Valerie said...

LindyLou - Thanks for posting a link.

Diana - Interesting! It's so true that aftershocks are not just geophysical. Living right along the Abruzzo border we came to really appreciate the resilience and "no-nonsense" aspect of the Abruzzese character, things that have no doubt helped them cope through this. It really is the concept of "home" that is needed. One article I read said that very few people have hung pictures or decorated their new prefab quarters, a real sign that they are shelters and not homes.

Sammy - Thanks for commenting. We do hope the limbo will end soon for them. Speriamo bene!

I'm adding photos of the temporary housing to give everyone an idea of what they look like.

J.Doe said...

This is a terrible tragedy that the homeless in Aquila don't have permanent homes so long after the quake has happened.

Evey said...

Thank you for putting reality back and giving it a face and a voice - there was a brevity in your article that coincided well with the need to say less this time.