October 25, 2011

On October 25, 2011, Vernazza, one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful villages, in the Cinque Terre National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, was devastated by an unprecedented storm that ravaged the territory with a tornado and 542 mm (21 inches) of rain, a third of an average year’s rainfall.

As a result, massive flooding and mudslides buried the town in 4 meters (13 feet) of mud and debris, killed three residents and caused over 100 million Euros in damages including the complete destruction of homes, infrastructure, businesses and the surrounding territory.

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Immediately after the disaster, Vernazza’s citizens were left without water, electricity, gas, a sewage system and means of communication.  For months thereafter, Vernazza remained under evacuation orders and in a state of emergency.  When European Union Commissioner for Regional Politics Johannes Hahn visited Vernazza in January 2012 with the President of the Region of Liguria Claudio Burlando, he commented, “I have never seen such enormous destruction”.

From the start, emergency crews, military personnel, volunteers, and Vernazza’s administration and citizens worked heroically to begin reconstruction.  Emergency projects to contain the canal, stabilize the surrounding hillsides and repair Vernazza’s infrastructure continue while the town has reopened for business and many of its residents have returned home.

Giorgio Napolitano, the President of Italy, visited Vernazza in March 2012 and applauded the town’s mobilization and reconstruction efforts.  However, President Napolitano also stated that with Italy’s economic crisis, additional funding for Vernazza’s many urgent projects would be slow in coming.

Mayor Vincenzo Resasco, Vernazza’s mayor, responded that the recovery effort must focus on “ensuring the safety of Vernazza’s residents and visitors as well as on the preservation of Vernazza’s heritage.  The town of Vernazza has compiled a list of specific projects that can be financed in part or in whole by donations.  We need Save Vernazza ONLUS to help rebuild our town together.”