MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
The Ischia Italy earthquake struck Aug. 21 and registered a magnitude of 4.0. Many of the residents of the island (which is the home of my ancestors and husband and where I live during the summer) describe a loud noise that sounded like a bomb. Seismologists on various Italian news programs explained that this is common when an earthquake hits a volcanic territory. Indeed, Ischia is a volcano.
Damage Was Limited to One Town
After the loud noise, the earth shook and the electricity went out briefly. Many of the people in Barano say they didn’t even realize anything – let alone an earthquake – had just happened. However, the town of Casamicciola faced more serious damage. The natives say that Casamicciola, which is a port town where tourists often arrive, is more vulnerable to earthquakes than the rest of the island.
Some homes collapsed in Casamicciola. Others experienced damage that rendered them inhabitable for the time being. Lacco Ameno and Forio, two other towns, also experienced some damage but it was minor in comparison to Casamicciola. In the aftermath, 2,600 people were left without homes in Ischia. Still, outside of Casamicciola there is little evidence an earthquake ever hit. Life carries on as usual.
A Miraculous Rescue
News that three brothers, ages 11, 7, and 7 months, were stuck under the rubble of their home devastated everyone. The oldest boy had put them under a mattress, and they were able to communicate with the rescue workers the entire time, which lasted through the night and into the next day.
Rescue workers successfully pulled out 7-month-old Pasquale first. Next, came 7-year-old Mattia and 11-year-old Ciro, who was hailed a hero by news outlets for quick thinking that saved his brothers and him. You can view the emotional rescue of the baby on YouTube.
Two Women Lost Their Lives
Tragically, the earthquake did result in the deaths of two people. One woman was outside the church, where she had just worshipped. The quake hit and the church bell fell and killed her. Another succumbed to the rubble in Casamicciola.
Authorities are investigating to determine if the houses in Casamicciola collapsed because they were not properly built. In other words, they want to make sure builders obtained the proper permits and completed construction up to code for protection against earthquakes. Because the 4.0 magnitude was not as big as other quakes, authorities are raising suspicion. The people of Ischia are railing against these accusations.
Asking for Support
Anyone who wants to help the people of Ischia with the rebuilding efforts in Casamicciola can donate to this gofundme page. (I personally can vouch for Dario Pinto, the person who started this fund. He is a family friend and native of Ischia.) In addition, you can visit the beautiful island of Ischia. Many tourists fled in the wake of the earthquake. Others canceled upcoming reservations.
While I understand the tourist’s concerns, I also feel for the people of Ischia. This is their busy season; if no one comes now, they lose serious income. An island reliant on tourism, many of the natives only have six months of secure work. Those who really want to support Ischia amid this tragedy should spend their vacation money there.
In addition, the overwhelming majority of the island is functioning as usual. The damage was limited to one small hamlet of the island. There have been no aftershocks. Natives are making swift, energetic campaigns on social media to demonstrate the sun is still shining. The beach is still welcoming. And you should join in the fun.
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press, 2012). She also has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.