Sunday, November 06, 2011

It’s been a hell of a two weeks here in Italy, weather-wise, morale-wise, financially, etc.  I won’t go into the political or financial end of it too much, because 1) I am not an expert and 2) I don’t like to go there anyway.  My only remark will be to say how “pleasant” and reassuring it is to have politicians come to physical blows during a senate session the day after 9 people lost their lives in the floods of Liguria and NW Tuscany (and no, they were not related stories).
Two weeks ago today marks the death of one of Italy’s (deserving) “golden boys”,  Marco SImoncelli, a champion of motorcross (and wonderful role model) that took a bad turn during a race and lost his life in the process.  The country started to mourn that day.

RIP Marco...

Two days later, the nightmare began for Liguria & the Lunigiana area of Tuscany, as the land was pounded with a frightful amount of rain which unleashed a series of landslides turn tsunami.  Villages and lives were destroyed.  Some of Italy’s most picturesque coastline was churned into a stew of mud, cars,  and trash.  It was/is horrific.  

All that remains of one house in Vernazza, 
the top of the chimney...
We were fortunate here in Lerici taking a mild pounding, a few small mudslides but no major damage.  My in-laws place (and my husband’s warehouse) were a different story.  Both are located just a few 100 meters from the Vara River which bloated beyond its capacity sending nearly 2 meters of water onto the banks of the Val di Vara, again destroying homes and businesses.  Lui raced to the area (despite the torrential downpours in which no one should have been driving) to see what he could do to keep the water from entering into his warehouse and parent’s home.  When he got there, he realized very little, but God was on his side.  Two houses down was submerged in 4 feet of water, and brick and ceramic factory, just 200 meters from his place, lost over €1,000,000 euros in product.  A slight, unnoticeable slant in the road left Lui’s business and parents home in tact.  I cannot state enough the relief felt that evening, but also the overwhelming sense sadness and almost guilt that succumbed all of us knowing, we were the lucky ones when so many others were not.
A break of sunshine and good weather blessed the area for about 10 days so the villages could begin a very long and pain cleaning process.  It was a time of reflection and reinforcement of one’s beliefs and love for their hometowns.  Despite mother nature’s wrath, everyone seemed so determined to rebuild and overcome the aching sorrow felt inside.
Then came this past Friday.  Another awful storm that brought the city of Genova “to its knees” as stated in the headlines here in Italy.  If you read my blog in the past, you know I have a semi-love affair with Genova.  I find it to be a beautiful, raw, fascinating and very real city.  Watching the videos and pictures of a city submerged in water and out of control waves of water from what are usually small flowing streams, was like a horror film.  6 lives were lost and countless business gone.

Downtown Genova at Brignole Train Station...

Saturday, towns in Piemonte were evacuated and here on Sunday, everyone is still on pins and needles hoping the storm passes without further damage, especially to those areas who cannot afford or resist anymore.  We think the worst is over, but rain is still predicted over the next two days.  Lui can barely sleep thinking about the Vara River swelling over again.  My dear friend, Kate, who has done so much to help in her former hometown of Monterosso, now has to tend to her own home in Levanto, which was partially flooded, again by a little stream turn vicious wave of water and earth.  I am sure the people of Vernazza, Monterosso, Borghetto di Vara, Brugnato and Aulla are even more desperate.

Clean up begins...
I feel incredibly fortunate, but also exhausted by so much destruction and sadness here in Italy.  I also feel a bit of anger at the lack of coverage by the press outside of the country.  All they seem to report on is the “buffoon-ery” of Berlusconi and the financial woes (that yes, are also eating away at this country).  It would be nice to have the world know that Italy is not all about pasta, under-age escorts, tax evasion and good wine, but rather about the people who have worked their fingers to the bone to make ends meet or to even succeed fantastically (as many have in Le Cinque Terre), only to have their world shattered in less than 15 minutes of horrendous weather.  Real Italy is dealing with some serious problems and heartache, and could use a little empathy, prayers and understanding from beyond its borders.

Ok, off my soapbox now...


Lisa Tawn Bergren said...

I've been so sad to learn of Italy's weather trauma of late, aching over the loss and destruction. Some of us are paying attention, friend. Hang in there. Praying for sun...

martinheavner said...

Thanks for such an articulate and moving update, Megan. Our first thoughts upon hearing about the original floods in Vernazza and Monterosso were how much impact the storm had on you and Luigi in Lerici. Then of course we mourned for the destruction of life and property in those picture-perfect villages of the Cinque Terre, especially Vernazza which will always hold a special place in our hearts thanks to your introducing it to us (and teaching Gale how to eat fresh anchovies and baby octopi!). We're thankful that Luigi's warehouse and his parent's home was spared. And we'll continue to keep all of you in our thoughts and prayers because we know how difficult the recovery and clean-up can be.

By the way, I don't think the coverage we've seen here in the DC area has been negative towards the Italians and the government. We've had more than our share of natural disasters here (hurricanes, floods, and (mild) earthquakes to name just a few) and realize how capricious the weather can be and how ultimately it's all in God's hands; all we can do is be there for each other. Please keep us updated through your excellent blog posts.

Anonymous said...

Sending heartfelt prayers and empathy in spades to my beloved Italy and her wonderful people. There has been NO coverage here in the US on the news. I initially heard about it on Facebook, then through various blogs including yours. I'm glad to hear you and your family are safe, but no doubt you are forever affected by it. Doing what I can to send financial help and supplies. God Bless Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Genoa and all those affected by the massive flooding. I love you all and will be back. xo Valorie

Di said...

Genova has seen an amazing response from the young people. I arrived in time for the terrible rain and watched as a things unfolded via facebook. The people picked up shovels and went to work. Anyway, good to find you again. I shall add you to google reader and hope that things work out in your world. We had sunshine this afternoon, here in La Superba, and immediately there were people out on the streets in the centro storica :-)

Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers are absolutely with you and Italy. It's very surreal to see the footage of the flood in Florence that occurred at this time 45 years ago. I am in DC now and have heard very little about this flooding but thank you for keeping us all posted.
Best wishes and take care!

sugoandsunshine said...

Well said! Brava! Sending good thoughts and prayers your way!

I live in the province of Siena, so apart from steady rain we have been thankfully spared...

sugoandsunshine said...

whoops, it's been a while since I've blogged, the above comment is mine, and the sewing blog is no longer active. (no time).

Esther in Edmonton said...

Totally agree that media coverage has been distracted by financial and political events. Blogs like this are the best source of news I've been able to find, although admittedly I probably miss some relevant coverage in Italian. Appreciate the work you and your fellow bloggers have done to keep us updated!

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