Campotosto, December 8, 2017. Campostoto is a village between L'Aquila and Amatrice hit by five different earthquakes on April 6, 2009, August 24, 2016, October 26, 2016, October 30, 2016 and finally January 24, 2017. A message on the wall reads "the forgotten crater".
L'Aquila, August 16, 2017. The historic center of L'Aquila in ruins since the earthquake of April 6, 2009.
L'Aquila, August 16, 2017. Inside of a hair salon in the old part of L'Aquila.
L'Aquila, 21 August 2017. A high in ruins school in L'Aquila.
Fossa, August 18, 2017. The picture shows how buildings are ‘secured’ with wooden scaffoldings.
Fossa, August 18, 2017. Hit by the earthquake of April 6, 2009, Fossa is motionless. Very few buildings had been rebuilt more than eight years after the disaster.
Fossa, August 18, 2017. On some doors you can read "empty house". Abandoned places become the targets of looting.
Fossa, December 6, 2017. A calendar stopped on April 2009 as did the rest of the town of Fossa.
Fossa, December 6, 2017. An empty house where nothing has moved since the earthquake in 2009.
Fossa, December 6, 2017. Giorgia, 32, decided to stay in Fossa. She still lives in a prefab in the MAP village built in the lower part of the ancient village of Fossa. Once or twice a week, she goes back to her old house where she lived with her family to let some air in and check that everything is in order.
L'Aquila, on December 6, 2017. Giorgia lives of little jobs and works as a volunteer for the cultural association 3e32, created after the earthquake of the April 6, 2009. Here she cleans the floor of the bar of the organisation.
Campotosto, December 8, 2017. Campostoto is a village between L'Aquila and Amatrice hit by five different earthquakes between 2009 and 2017.
Campotosto, April 12, 2018. There is very little left of the town center.
Campotosto, April 12, 2018. Assunta rebuilt her workshop by herself. She is one of the few craftspersons who decided to stay to try and lift up the economy of the region, after many others decided to leave due to the successive disasters
Camposto, April 12, 2018. Assunta, weaver, works in her new studio.
Amatrice, December 13, 2017. Amatrice was destroyed by the earthquake of August 24, 2016.
Amatrice, August 20, 2017. A year after the earthquake not much has changed.
Amatrice, December 13, 2017. The demolitions started. All needs to be torn down before it can be rebuilt.
Amatrice August 23, 2017. Firefighter Lino, points to what is left of his family home. Every day, he takes the inhabitants of Amatrice back into the red zone to get their belongings. His family was relocated to a hotel on the Adriatic coast a few kilometres away.
Four months later, Amatrice, December 13, 2017. Lino looks out the window of the new prefabricated house where he was relocated with his wife and two little daughters. "I’m seriously thinking about leaving this place. It's my land, I love it, but there is nothing left to offer to my two daughters here. "
Amatrice, December 9, 2017. A view of the construction site of the prefabricated houses not yet finished a year and a half after the earthquake of August 24, 2016.
Amatrice, December 13, 2017. Demolitions have started to make way for rebuilding.
Capricchia, December 13, 2017. Roberto walks in the streets of Capricchia, a small village located a few minutes drive from Amatrice. Capricchia was not hit by the earthquake of August 24, 2016 but was destroyed by the following ones, October 26, 2016, October 30, 2016 and finally January 24, 2017.
Capricchia, August 25, 2017. View of the interior of the kit house that Roberto and his companion bought to live in with their two children, Manuela and Loris.
Capricchia, August 25, 2017. Roberto on his Vespa in front of the house kit. The people of Capricchia managed on their own so that they could continue to live in their village, while waiting for the construction of the prefabs from the authorities.
Capricchia, December 13, 2017. Roberto in front of the prefabricated house built by the State.
Capricchia, December 13, 2017. Carmen, Roberto’s partner, prepares carbonara pasta with Manuela, her daughter.
Capricchia, April 9, 2018. Loris, Carmen's son plays accordion in his new room, which he shares with his sister Manuela. On the wall, photos of Manuela with her best friend, who died in the earthquake of August 24, in Amatrice. "Since that day, Loris has been struggling to sleep alone at night ... and Manuela no longer wants to live in a concrete or brick house,” Carmen tells us.
Arquata del Tronto, August 8, 2017. In the foreground, the prefabricated cottages are being worked on ayear after the first earthquake that affected the region on August 24, 2016. In the background, what remains of the old village.
Arquata del Tronto, December 9, 2017, the Blue Bar.
Arquata del Tronto, December 9, 2017. The Blue Bar located in a container is the only place in the area where people can socialize. "After spending a year in hotels on the coast, including San Benedetto del Tronto, coming back is hard because there is nothing here. The only place where we can find a semblance of normality and warmth is between the four walls of this bar," a customer explains.
On the road between Amatrice and Arquata del Tronto, August 20, 2017. The stones collapsed from the mountain during the earthquake of August 2016.
Campotosto, December 8, 2017.
Pescara del Tronto, April 7, 2018. Shirts with the faces of the victims are on display in a public garden of the village to pay a tribute to the 47 people who lost their lives during the earthquake of August 24, 2016. Built on the side of a mountain, the village was completely destroyed.
San Benedetto del Tronto, April 7, 2018. Some survivors still live in hotels on the coast. "After spending two years in a hotel, you lose a part of your independence. It is very difficult. It kind of kills of your brain cells,” explains Antidio, a resident of Arquata del Tronto who have not been able to return to his village or home yet.
Norcia, December 10, 2017. Norcia was affected by the earthquake of October 30, 2016. Part of the population was relocated in containers divided into rooms. The rule is one room per family.
Amatrice, August 20, 2017. One year after the earthquake, a sign reads "No selfie, place of respect".
Torrita, December 10, 2017. Sonia, a farmer from the region, enters her office on the ground floor in the house where she lives with her parents. Torrita was hit by the earthquake of August 24, 2016. "We were lucky because the house had no damage, but the stables for the animals are unusable now.” This part of the Apennine mountains is full of farmers who lost everything but could not leave their land due to their cattle.
Torrita, April 9, 2018. After the disaster, the state provided farmers with large plastic tarpaulin to shelter their cattle. "But a stable is not just a roof! There is a whole system of water evacuation and distribution of food! What do you want to do with a piece of plastic to put on the head of the livestock?” After fighting with the public authorities for months, Sonia obtained the first post-earthquake barn prototype in line with farmers' expectations (see photo). Thanks to her, the other farmers in the region will also be entitled to it.
On the road to Torrita, December 9, 2017. Sonia chats with the driver.
On the road between Amatrice and Arquata del Tronto, August 20, 2017. One year after the earthquake, destruction is visible everywhere.
Popoli, December 10, 2017. Fabio is sitting in the house he rebuilt himself in the garden of his old house now in ruins.
Popoli, December 10, 2017. Fabio is sitting in the house he rebuilt himself in the garden of his old house now in ruins. The consequences of an earthquake are numerous and disastrous, especially the social aspects. Following the earthquake in October 2016 that affected Norcia and Popoli what was left of his marriage went into smoke; he now lives alone and sees only his children every couple of weeks. He admits this loneliness, telling us that the lack of support, and the feeling of abandonment led him "to wait 7pm to open my first beer of the evening".
L'Aquila, December 16, 2017. Alcoholism, drug use, depression and suicide all increased in the period following a major earthquake. Although it is hard to quantify, several studies from NGOs such as Emergency and the University of Medicine of L'Aquila, give some insights into those burdens. On the photo, syringes are pictured in a sink in an abandoned house in the red zone of L'Aquila.
L'Aquila, August 17, 2017. A view of the C.A.S.E project in Sant Antonio near L'Aquila, where the inhabitants of the city were relocated following the earthquake of April 6, 2009 and some still live there after 10 years.
L'Aquila, August 17, 2017. Nearly 10 years after the earthquake of April 6, 2009.
L'Aquila, August 16, 2017. L'Aquila National Museum still under construction after the earthquake of 2009.
L'Aquila, August 21, 2017. A kindergarten of L'Aquila still located in a prefab. Most of the schools in L’Aquilla are still in prefabricated buildings.
L'Aquila, December 12, 2017. The historic center of L'Aquila under construction.
L'Aquila, the night between April 5 and April 6, 2018. Every year on the night of April 5 to 6, the inhabitants of L'Aquila and the surrounding area meet for a march in tribute of the victims of the earthquake.
L'Aquila, August 16, 2017. The church of San Bernardino still under construction.
Words&Photographs by Elena Fusco
When an earthquake hits an inhabited place, from natural phenomenon, it becomes a social disaster. What it destroys is no longer just material; it takes away an entire society. Just a few weeks away from the tenth anniversary of the earthquake of L’Aquila and three years after the one of Amatrice, this documentary aims at reflecting the sense of abandonment that hits this region by showing the daily life of its inhabitants, their struggles due to the lacks support and coordination of the public authorities, and their hardship facing material and social destruction.
On April 6, 2009 at 3:32 am local time, the earth shook in L’Aquila. The tremors were measured 6.3 on the Richter Scale. Seven years later, on August 24, 2016, at 3:36 am local time, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Amatrice and its area. On October 26, 2016, October 30, 2016 and finally on January 24, 2017, the earth shook again shattering Amatrice, Capricchia, Norcia, Campotosto and the surrounding area. Italy is located on a seismic fault, and earthquakes are part of its history. However, each time a new earthquake hits, the country lives through this sort of natural disaster as if for the first time, leaving its people helpless and alone to face their fate.
Located about 50 kilometres from each other, these disasters have killed nearly 600 people, injured thousands and displace more than 80,000. The victims lost their loved ones, their home or their job, often all three of these combined. The early rage gave way to bitterness and a sad dejection: all, public authorities, fellow citizens and the media, forget them. “Forgotten”, “abandoned”, “ignored”. Those words appear like a sad song on graffitis in the village of Campotosto and in the testimonies of Roberto in Capricchia, Giorgia in Fossa in the province of L’Aquila and all the people encountered in the field.
Nowadays, the historic center of L’Aquila is still a succession of deserted streets, empty mailboxes and closed shutters. In the months following the earthquake, 65,000 people had to be relocated. In a hurry, then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the head of Civil Protection Guido Bertolaso built anti-seismic buildings outside the city of L’Aquila, called Project Houses (Progetto Case) and, for the neighbouring villages, small prefabs better known as MAP (Modulo Abitativo Provvisorio – Provisional Housing Module), completely leaving out – due to the emergency – the importance of rebuilding a social, economic and cultural base.
The city of L’Aquila, now a dormitory town, is scattered. Its inhabitants live outside the historic center and therefore far core of the town. Amatrice and its surrounding villages, Campotosto, Arquata del Tronto, Norcia and the others are just an hour drive away. After the earthquakes of 2016 and 2017, this area faced the same issues due to relocation and reconstruction: these villages lost their soul by losing their social, economic and cultural strata.
The earthquake kills, destroys, crushes and razes to the ground. These destructions have had a considerable impact on the social relationships and the psychological health of the victims, as explained to us by Fabio in the kitchen of the wooden house he rebuilt for himself. “The social damages are especially devastating. They lead to jealousy, job loss, alcoholism and even suicide.”
From August 2017 to April 2018, I visited this region several times to document the post-earthquake period. This report aims at documenting the aftermath where the survivors are torn between staying and moving forward, or between moving away and starting from scratch. This wants to give a voice and a face to the people of this region so that these earthquakes are not only those of the “forgotten”.
About the author of this reportage:
Elena Fusco, is an Italian journalist and photographer living in Paris. She collaborates with AFP and her work has been published in several magazines like Journal du Dimanche, Sept, Inrocks or L’Obs.