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Cinque Terre Flood:  Vernazza Clean Up Progress

Posted on November 16, 2011

Many people have been wondering how the clean up is progressing in Vernazza.  The photographs of the destruction from the flooding initially left me thinking this was an impossible task.

Dramatic video footage of the flood just above street level

Then I began to hear back from the residents and new pictures of their valiant efforts along side relief workers from all areas of Italy began to surface.

Vernazza is emerging. Via Roma’s cobblestone path is again visible. Shops are being painstakingly cleared of mud and debris. Homes are beginning to be reconnected to water and sewer. Donation efforts are in full swing.

But there is so much still ahead.

I have been informed that the damages from the flood will not be covered by insurance because this was an ‘act of God.’  Winter is coming and with it cold and wet weather; the clean up effort is in a race against the clock.  Residents will have to remain strong despite their physical and emotional losses.  I can only imagine the effort it must take each day to overcome the urge to submit to defeat.  They have lost businesses and income.  They have lost friends.  The bodies of the three residents from Vernazza washed up on the shores of France last week.  Their stories of struggle are heart wrenching.

We are alive and we thank you Dad!  Thank you for holding the door to give me the time to save my family and get them to safety atop the refrigerator.  Thank you for calming the water giving us the opportunity to escape.  I know it was you, your spirit, blocking the water and breaking the fury of the flood.  I am thinking this as I realize that we have survived the impossible.  To Read More….

We can make a difference in this tragedy; I encourage each one of you to reach out to this place that has given us all so many beautiful memories.  Even the smallest of donations will help.  Save Vernazza has an incredible website with on-line donations available through PayPal.  Tell your friends; forward this message.  Many people still do not know what has happened here as the story never made headlines in traditional news sources.  We also need to remember that Vernazza needs our presence; put it on your travel itinerary next year.  Without tourism, without us, Vernazza will waver.

In a time where we have all become disappointed and disillusioned by institutions and government, I have been inspired by the strength of community coming together around the world for this little place.  The flooding itself is unspeakable; the committment and solidarity uplifting.  I am reminded (as I often am when I travel) that just going through the motions every day is not good enough; it is the people around us that make this life worth living.

Donations and frequent updates at Save Vernazza, click here

Cinque Terre

A Touching Tribute Video showing the clean up

copyright 2011  Andi Brown  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Cinque Terre, Vernazza Flood:  Disaster Relief Information

Cinque Terre

Courtesy of Eugenio, Arbaspaa

Just one week ago Vernazza and Monterosso of the Cinque Terre along with several lesser known villages were devastated by massive flooding and mudslides.  The region had been experiencing tremendous rainfall but no one expected such destructive results.

At the present time the railway has been cleared, the river has been re-directed to its original route, some electricity has been restored and heavy machinery has been helping to clear the mud, rock and debris.  Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and come together as a community.  Unfortunately the sad stories are also surfacing.  I have read of merchants  barely escaping to the second level of their building, only to watch a fellow storekeeper unable to cling any longer to his awning be washed away.  There are currently 9 people dead (not all from the Cinque Terre) and several still missing.

Cinque Terre flooding

Courtesy of Giuliano Pucci

The heroic stories are out there as well.  Stories of tourists being plucked from the muddy river just in time.  Of the owners at Il Castello opening up to shelter those without.  Of the evacuation of the elderly and young.  Of locals helping tourists as if they were family.

How I love Vernazza.  How I love when humanity rises up when life has lashed out.

I have been watching the video footage and photos as the people come together to clean up and rebuild the area.  Vernazza has held such a special place in my life, my family’s life and my daughter’s life.  Passively watching these events unfold has been difficult for me.  Instinctively I want to reach out.  Many of you have been asking ‘How can I help?’
■For those of you wanting to help Vernazza directly there is currently a relief fund set up by the Commune of Vernazza.  It is a non-profit, cultural organization set-up for and by the community of Vernazza, called Per Vernazza Futura (For Vernazza’s Future). Funds will help the people effected by the flood and landslide as well as being used for the reconstruction of the town and surrounding environment.  Per Vernazza Fortuna can be reached at the following:
Email:
vernazzafutura@gmail.com
Phone:
+39 0187821247.  Funds can be wired directly to the following account:             UBI Bank of San Giorgio
Via Chiodo, 115
La Spezia, Italy.   IBAN: IT37Q0552610730 000000001616   BIC: BPGGITG1  SWIFT: BLOPIT22
■Another fund should be available within the next few days as well.  This site has been founded by several ex-pats who share a great love of Vernazza.  They also are committed to keeping money donated within Vernazza.  Please check back for updates.  They are called Save Vernazza and can also be found on Facebook.
■If you would like to volunteer contact the Protezione Civile at +39 0187.69.51.81.  Lots of help is needed, but keep in mind there are no accommodations in the area as open rooms are housing those who have lost their homes. Boats depart from both La Spezia and Levanto every morning to bring people to the Cinque Terre.
■The Italian Red Cross is also a good choice for those wanting to help the entire region effected.

I have read comments from a few people saying that Vernazza is a wealthy community and will overcome this disaster; they should be able to recover within a year or two.  They have said that we should not give our time and money when there is greater suffering with fewer resources in the world.  It is true that suffering and heartache happen around the world everyday.  No one is ever immune.  But who is to say that one persons suffering is worse than another’s?  Pain is pain, no matter what form.  I hope that my connection to this amazing place will in some small way help them to rise above and meet their challenge with success, strength and support.

I call out to everyone that has ever been touched by Vernazza.

Go Back.  Don’t write them off.

To those that have always wanted to visit.  Do Not Change Your Plans.  Put Vernazza back on your itinerary.

We must not only help them with their immediate needs, but help them recover for the long-term.  Let us fill their rooms and crowd their restaurants again.  We are all instrumental to Vernazza’s future.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

Copyright 2011 Andi Brown  Once in a Lifetime Travel

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Veronica Viggiano #

    We were vacationing in Vernazza and were rescued from the train platform by three wonderful Italian men as a propane tank exploded and two cars were swept under the platform. Frederico, a teacher who lives in Vernazza, led us to the church where he and the priest gave us sanctuary and provided us with towels, blankets and a case of water. Eventually we and the 12 people who were rescued with us were taken to a church at the top of the town near the office of the mayor which had been set up as a relief center shared by tourists and local people as well. Local residents did all they could to provide us with liquids and snacks although many of them had lost their businesses and homes. The woman we rented our rooms from had her son lead us to her family home because we couldn’t get into our rooms. The next day we were evacuated by boat and the emergency workers and volunteers were heroic in their efforts to help us. We will never forget Vernazza and are thankful to you for providing information on how and where to send aid. We are sadden that such good people are living through such difficult times and hope and pray that some normalcy will return to the town and the people quickly.

    November 5, 2011
    • Andrea #

      We are the couple from South Texas (Preston and Andrea Hance). Not sure if you remember us??? I got swept down the street while trying to make it to train station. We remember the propane tank explosion and being led to the Church. What an emotional experience that will never be forgotten. We will definately return to Vernazza. I wish you well!!!!
      Andrea Hance

      November 22, 2011
      • Andrea…I just got your email over youtube. Thank you so much! I will call you early next month. Tell your friends I anxiously await their stories. I will contact you once I’m ready to publish. So glad you made it home safe!!

        November 22, 2011
  2. Laraine Gray #

    We were so happy with our stay in Vernazza late September and very sad to see the ruined village but heartened to see the work being done and stories of bravery and aid given to others.

    November 6, 2011
  3. Veronica Viggiano #

    Hi Andrea. Sure, we remember you. We sat together up at the church for a while until you were able to locate the friends you were separated from in the flash flood. We were evacuated on the second boat the next morning. We sure have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!!
    The pictures of the clean up in Vernazza are even worse than I thought they’d be and it’s sad to read about the loss of life. You’re right, it was an experience we will never forget!!
    Best wishes. Ronnie Viggiano

    November 22, 2011
  4. Andi,
    Thank you for your coverage, support and efforts for Vernazza. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Spreading the news and networking our blogs has really made a huge impact so I wanted to thank you for it by sending more visitors your way.
    Thanks again!

    December 5, 2011
    • Thank you so very much, that means a lot to me. I hope that even in a small way I can help make a difference!

      December 5, 2011
  5. I will be praying and informing the public and doing what I can to raise $ and awarness to support the rebuild of this beautiful place I will forever call my home! Please inform me on how I can help in any way and what progress is being made.

    January 5, 2012
  6. Diane Bonita #

    Spent a lovely day in Vernazza in September 2010, eating pizza at the local tavern and enjoying gellato as we watched the boats and swimmers and took photos on the rocks with the gorgeous scenery surrounding us. We picked up small wooden toys for our granddaughers and they still play with them which brings me right back to the tiny store there. My family will be making a donation to help with the restoration of Vernazza and I will be spreading the news throughout my email and Facebook contacts. God Bless You and I will keep the people of Vernazza in my thoughts and prayers.

    January 9, 2012
  7. OMG, thank you for stopping by my blog, Saving Cinque Terre. Although I don’t have nearly as much information as yours, which is a fascinating post to read by the way. Thank you for all you do to let people know that it’s coming back. One of my favorite polices in the world.

    Scott

    April 25, 2012
    • First off, you are very welcome and thank you as well. It is wonderful to find people such as yourself reaching out to help!

      April 25, 2012

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