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Italy's Quake-Damaged L'Aquila Still Struggling One Year Later


Rubble lies on the ground beside a postbox in the Piazza della Repubblica in Central L'aquila (January 2010 file photo)

Rubble lies on the ground beside a postbox in the Piazza della Repubblica in Central L'aquila (January 2010 file photo)

The only sound to be heard in the streets is the wind blowing through buildings that may never live again. Reconstruction in l'Aquila seems a hope that may never materialize. The rubble and debris from the deadly quake on April 6 of last year is still everywhere.

It has been nearly a year since a deadly earthquake devastated the Italian city of l'Aquila. The city center remains closed and residents have been unable to return to their homes. L'Aquila beautiful churches and monuments are still covered in scaffolding.

The only sound to be heard in the streets is the wind blowing through buildings that may never live again. Reconstruction in l'Aquila seems a hope that may never materialize. The rubble and debris from the deadly quake on April 6 of last year is still everywhere.

Locals are devastated that one year later this is still the scene. They say they want their city back, and they have decided to take the problem into their own hands.

Every Sunday, thousands show up in the city center with pick-axes, spades, buckets and wheelbarrows. With their bare-hands they remove the rubble, forming a human chain and passing the buckets along a line of young and old.

It is a symbolic gesture, but it gets the message across: the rubble needs to go before reconstruction can begin.

Federico d'Orazio says the only rubble that has been removed is what has been taken away by the people of l'Aquila.

Nearly all the businesses in the city center are still closed. Natalia Nurzia owns a cafe that managed to reopen in time for Christmas.

At the moment, she says, only five commercial businesses have reopened. But she hopes that by the summer there will be 30.

Many in l'Aquila are only too aware that it may be years before the city will live again. Some say it could become a modern-day Pompeii if something is not done soon.

Everyone now has a proper roof over their head. The tent cities have all been removed. The government has made thousands of temporary homes available for quake victims, and a large number are also still living in hotels in the area.

But residents want their old city back, and now they are getting organized for the one-year anniversary of the quake.

Anna Guerrieri says that everyone has the desire to be united on the night of April 5 and 6 to be able to remember that terrible moment for l'Aquila. The quake struck at 3.30 am, killing nearly 300 people.

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