The picture of devastation is heart wrenching. …
Torrential flash flooding and mud slides ravaged Monterosso and Vernazza this week, leaving a 13 foot wall of mud in their wake. Video of the flash flooding in Monterosso is horrific.
The Ligurian mountainous coastal towns of Cinque Terre, much of which is destroyed or burried under mud and debris, are the five towns on the Italian Riviera, where our family vacationed and hiked this summer… towns we wanted to visit for almost 2 decades …
Cinque Terre (all five of the towns there: Corniglia, Manarola, Rio Maggiore, Vernazza & Monterosso) are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites … and are a National Park as well… drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists each summer.
Roads, bridges, shops, restaurants, homes, hotels, hiking trails, beachfront resorts and ports … entire fishing villages… were engulfed by the flash flooding that swept away the towns…. towns that were pristine and perfect before… and will be again.
I’m looking back over the memories we have of being there in August … the cafes where we sat … shops we bought gifts at… that restaurant where we had the most amazing pesto ever … the mountainous hiking trails that took us through that amazing national park… and the views that took our breath away. The people were so welcoming … They, their livelihood, and their towns …all of it devastated now under 13 feet of mud that remained behind, the river of mudslides engulfing everything in it’s path.
Where does one start to rebuild? The towns of Vernazza and Monterosso are without electricity … no transportation in or out … no water… no food … but relief efforts have begun already.
The resilience of the human spirit is remarkable. 45 years ago when the Arno River flooded it’s banks, organized civil protection was virtually inexistant for almost the entire first week after the ALLUVIONE di Firenze. But flocks of “Angeli del Fango” (International volunteers who became known as “Angels of the Mud”) arrived in droves from all parts of the globe… to help…. after the November 1966 flood that inundated and destroyed the historic center of Firenze … ruining works of art … books, documents, paintings, afrescoes. Most of the volunteers had no where to stay or sleep … but they came … (with… and without… expertise… but with one common thread: wanting to do something) … and they salvaged.
Where do you start after a natural disasater? As in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew here in South Florida, those who experience natural disasters start wherever they can… and with whatever they have … And… we reach out to each other to give (and get) help.
The residents of Monterosso and Vernazza are working with buckets, shovels, and the help of volunteers and the fire department … They are removing the mud, looking after their neighbors, their families, themselves. Rebuilding is an arduous process … It’s heartbreaking. Part of me is so grateful to have seen and to have experienced and to have hiked through each of those five BEAUTIFUL villages this past summer … yet heartbroken over that natural disaster that gave no warning and couldn’t be prevented.