La Nazione: January 12, 2012



Vernazza’s Residents: “There is still nothing functioning.”

The emergency is over but the rebirth is far off.

A walk through a village where stores are closed and wounds still open.

The “emergency” is over but not in the mind of some Vernazzesi. The President of the Region of Liguria, Claudio Burlando, has declared the town open to visitors. And Vernazza’s Mayor Vincenzo Resasco has stated that Trenitalia (the train system) is awaiting the official orders that will allow any and all persons access to the village. It is therefore just a matter of days before Vernazza “reopens”.

Nevertheless, some in town are perplexed by these decisions and statements. Giuliano Basso, owner of Camere Giuliano, while walking down Via Roma, notes the excavations to repair the sewage system have just begun. “The time it takes to repair a sewer system…To allow people to come here in these conditions, why? To do what?” Questions and statements such as these are being born from the harsh reality that Vernazza is still a village where nothing is working, there are no open stores and the canal is net yet secure. Via Roma is a shell of its former self and one is now unable to tell the difference between what was, prior to October 25, 2011, a business versus an old wine cellar.

In the meantime, there remains two private companies working to secure the town, equipped with a couple of diggers and a few trucks, who continue the work begun by the emergency crews to liberate the town, canal, roads, etc. from the millions of cubic meters of mud and debris that buried Vernazza on October 25, 2011.

One small group of Vigili del Fuoco (firemen) remain in Vernazza, but for how much longer is uncertain. The days of the navy cooks providing emergency crews and volunteers with meals are over. Upon their departure they were thoughtful enough to prepare roasts to leave behind in order for the volunteers and crews to have something to eat during the work days. A small group of local volunteers prepare dinner together in the cantina (wine cellar) of Aldo Basso of Pizzeria Fratelli Basso, and some are found to be in a foul mood, discouraged by the uncertainty of their situation.

On Tuesday, Giambattista Malagamba reopened the CSI (centro sportivo / sports club) as the towns only functioning bar/cafe. At a minimum, there is at least one place to buy a sandwich and drinks. Giuliano notes that Vernazza is able to support the 50 people that inhabit it, but no more. “Additionally, the village is still unsafe. On January 2 there was a heavy rain and because the canal did not overflow again we hang our hats on March to begin the season? The mayor has done some commendable things but he needs to listen more.” Adding to the sentiment Eraldo Basso, “Here in Vernazza we lack an openness regarding the town administration. We need and want more democracy, to involve the people in the decision making. If not we will be spiting ourselves and the reopening will be a difficult one.”

In a meeting with the business owners at the end of December many doubts were voiced, some questioning the ability to reopen so soon with others concerned that with too long a closure the revenue stream of the town, tourism, will go elsewhere.

Meanwhile the non-profit organization Save Vernazza has collected 160 thousand euro, mostly from American donors. A notable figure, but still a drop in the bucket regarding the overall damages and amount needed to secure the town. The main road leading into Vernazza needs to be rebuilt, there are over 150 unstable hillsides, the sea is still full of mud, the hiking trails are destroyed. Vernazza’s town councillor Gianni Moggia, states that within the short-term, La Taverna del Capitano restaurant will reopen, and Vernazza will have one option for meals available for the private operators working to restore Vernazza and the few from the utility company ACAM that are working on the restoration of the town sewer system.

Pierluigi Castagneto

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Monterosso

Today the final 100 evacuees return.

The last of the 100 evacuees from the old village of Monteresso, forced to leave their homes after October 25, returned today. Thanks to the restoration of the town’s water and sewage system (and soon to return, the town’s gas supply) the 1521 residents can finally return to normal everyday life.