12 April 2009

Earthquake update

(For those of you who missed it: I was in Rome the time the big
earthquake happened last Monday morning and
my house 40 km from the epicenter is fine. I didn't lose anybody close
to me, but I do know people who lost their house.)

I am writing from Rome. Bruno and me took the decision to not stay at
home still for yet another while,
as the area can still not be called 'safe' and there are new earthquakes
every day. On Thursday we received the
information that the core area would be moving to the south, closer to
where we live and that was enough to make us
decide to go home to take the cat and some more stuff and bring them to

This week has been incredibly tiresome, worrysome, emotional and what
not. I had to try do 'divide' myself over fear for my
own life and house, sadness for the people who lost lives or houses, my
parents (planned) visit which could not go as planned,
and the feeling of wanting to help but not being able to.

It was the first time ever i got to experience an earthquake. What is
most horrible about it for me is not only to physically experience it,
to know what damage it can cause, to see the grief and broken houses but
also, on top of that, to not be able to know that it is
over. It can happen any time again, with more devastating results. Yet
in the mean time, the sun is shining, the birds are singing,
spring is in full bloom and it seems it's all good. Well, most
earthquakes happen at night, i now know; it is the influence of the moon
causes not only sea tides, but also earth tides! So when the moon is
out, there is a higher risk. So can you believe i wouldn't be able to sleep
a calm night's sleep in this knowledge?

Friday i even got to see the damaged area with my own eyes, when we went
to L'Aquila to bring sleeping bags to Bruno's friend
who lost his house and had been sleeping on the floor for days. L'Aquila
is in the middle of the mountains and it's cold there, at night -1 degree.
So we bought them good sleeping bags and got up early to bring them to
L'Aquila. Eliseo and his wife Rita then showed us their house and the
neighborhood around it. Incredible. Most houses were still standing but
all were damaged: the walls had big cracks or had fallen down. Well,
i am sure you saw the images on tv. It looks like a ghost town, but a
bit further down the road there is a lot going on, all kinds of
services, like fire
protection, cops, carabinieri, military, civil protection, etc etc take
care of many things.

This week we will return to our house, as we decided that our lives have
to somehow get back to 'normal' again. At least here in Rome we had
some time to think and talk and reflect. Of course we have been
informing ourselves about the situation and it seems that there are, and
have been, small earthquakes every day everywhere in Italy for a long
time, or actually always. They are unpredictable and happen often, but
they also are not always, or rather rarely, as damaging as the one
almost one week ago now. So we have to learn to live with this knowledge
and accept that it could, but also could not, happen again. I should
make peace with the village, the region, my house again, as nothing is
certain and many things are dangerous (I think the last days I spent in
Rome have been more dangerous than actually staying in Scurcola; traffic
here is
crazy, for example!). I want to go home and feel safe and not feel panic
every time hear a strange sound or every time I see the lamp on the
ceiling moving. I want to appreciate the fact that this time, I have
not experienced physical or material damage. I want to acknowledge the
fact that up until now, my life has been quite safe; there are people
living in circumstances of fear (war, poverty, etc.) every day of their
and my life in this respect has been fortunate.

And it is time to get more active now. Last Thursday I joined a meeting
of self-organized groups who want to help the victims of the earthquake.
They want to establish a long-term and continuous presence in the area,
so they can see with their own eyes what is needed and what not. Fossa,
close to L'Aquila, is the village which will mainly receive this help,
as there are good contacts with the mayor of this place (it has been
proven to be even hard to enter the affected areas and bring stuff there
as there is heavy police presence and controls; they will not let
'un-accredited' groups in to deliver materials...) There will be
established a 'base camp' and plans are made for a tea
room/library/cinema space in the area. There will be a list of
necessities that will be collected and brought there by volunteers. A
website is now online and still under construction,
www.epicentrosolidale.org, from which
everything is coordinated. If any of you want to do something in any
way, I think this initiative
is the one I personally support the most (as it is direct,
self-organized and local). I will try to see if the website can be
translated into English soon and if it is possible to transfer money to
the account mentioned there from outside of Italy.

For now, greetings and thanks for reading,

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