Witnessing the aftershocks of the Italy earthquake

Jenna Kuczkowski

The recent 6.2 magnitude earthquake in central Italy, along with various aftershocks, have taken the lives of over 290 people as of Sunday and destroyed countless homes and historical buildings, including whole villages.

The epicenter of the initial quake struck a mountainous area of Italy and devastated the nearby towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto.

I’ve only just begun my study abroad experience in Florence, Italy, which was far enough north to remain unaffected by the earthquake. However, I’ve been here long enough to better understand the true toll the disaster had on the people and areas affected.

After reading so many articles on the earthquake and scrolling through photographs of people being pulled from the dusty remains of whole towns, it really solidified for me the idea that nothing in our world is permanent, including human life and the structures we reside in.

These buildings and towns affected by the disaster have been standing for hundreds of years. It was hard to wrap my head around just how quickly they can suddenly become nothing more than rubble.

Churches, towers and buildings that housed people’s families and friends were all gone, taking the sleeping people inside down with them.

Had I not been in Italy during the earthquake, I feel like it would have been harder for me to understand how important preserving historical city centers here in Italy is.

Italians speak with immense pride about the country’s long, rich history and the buildings that have stood through it all.

As I read one article where the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, said that “half the town no longer exists,” it really struck a chord with me that not only is half the population of the town potentially injured, dead or now homeless, but half of this mountainous town’s history that dates back to the 13th century is gone.

I feel most of the other 100 or so Kent State students in Florence were all just as surprised as I was Wednesday morning when they woke up to calls and texts from stateside family and friends who had heard about the earthquake and were checking in.

In fact, it was a bit of a coincidence that the day prior to the earthquake, all the Florence students attended a safety orientation and learned what to do in the event of an earthquake. We were told that, “Italy is not usual a highly seismic area.”

By the next day, I don’t think any of us believed that anymore.

Although assistance was dispatched soon after the earthquake, hundreds are still missing and thousands more are injured or homeless.

In the days following the earthquake, the victims of the disaster remain in my thoughts. I hope that the affected towns are able to recover both physically and emotionally from this traumatic event.