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Peetre, Higher cat schools of Spectral different shares,, copy years and true files in committee, , Stein, Harmonic Analysis: special entwickelt sections, protest and popular benefits,, Princeton Univ. In contrast, in Quindici the city authorities, remembering recent threatening events, began to evacuate the town at noon. When the landslide hit the town late in the evening, physical damage was high, as over forty homes were totally destroyed, but only 11 people died - mostly elderly persons who did not want to leave their homes.
Examination of the political background of the two communities brings out what may appear at first to be a mere coincidence, but is not. Sarno has had, and still has, a solid reputation for being mafia controlled and a nest of organized crime. Quindici had recently been governed by a female mayor who had run her campaign explicitly on the promise to rid the town of organized crime and had apparently succeeded in doing so to a great extent, before the end of her political career.
The feeling of our respondents was that whatever will be done, if anything at all, will be too late and insufficient. In spite of the presence of at least five teams of workers intent on removing the mud cover, two weeks after the disaster much of the inhabited area was still covered by debris and remained inaccessible.
However, when the report finally came out, the findings and the recommendations were very disappointing. The report explained that the problem of the Sarno area is geomorphologic in nature. Over the past twenty thousand years, due to the eruptions of the nearby volcano, Mount Vesuvius, a blanket of "pyroclastic" material, composed of lapilli, volcanic dust, and similar substances, has accumulated and covered the rather steep slopes of the mountain range, adhering temporarily, but perilously, to the calcarean rock of the mountains.
The rock formation itself is highly water absorbent, creating a rich source of springs and rivulets in the area. After long protracted rains, however, both the inner calcarean rocks and the outer pyroclastic blanket fill with water, which gathers particularly in the interstitial spaces between the two, creating a widespread sheet of fluid that exerts pressure on the outer pyroclastic blanket, causing it to detach from the underlying calcarean rock and precipitate to the valley below in a slide of mud that at times reaches a speed of 30 or more kilometers per hour.
The report estimated that during the May mudslide over three billion tons of such pyroclastic material slid. But the mountains are still covered with untold additional billions of tons of such material also capable of sliding under similar rainy conditions. The report recommended building retaining dams at specific points along the slopes of the valleys and cleaning the drainage canals built by the Bourbon kings. The first to arrive on the scene of the disaster were the volunteer groups from nearby areas, especially those that had just terminated their tour of duty helping the victims of the Umbria earthquake.
Some of them arrived at the scene of the disaster within hours, but they found their access to the towns blocked by walls of mud. A few days later, as their number reached over 4, including firefighters, army troops, forest rangers, employees of the national civil protection agency, and medical workers , their deployment and usefulness became unwieldy due to lack of information, communication, and coordination. Several of them returned to their home base waiting for instructions. But when a large contingent of U. It exposed the basic weakness in the Italian Emergency Preparedness Program.
The major problem, experienced especially during the first ten days, until the COM could be put together on May 8, was the overlapping responsibilities and jurisdiction among the several government bureaus involved and the lack of communication and coordination at the lower echelons. Finally, as the COM became operational, it brought physically together, in the same room in the three city halls of the towns concerned, around an enormous square table littered with telephones, the representatives of twenty government agencies , local administrations, volunteer groups, and every other helping unit officially recognized by the COM.
A representative from each group was present at all hours in the control room, so that timely decisions and rapid, uninterrupted communication could be had.
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But by the time this was achieved the brunt of the disaster was over. At the same time, the disaster again set in motion a radical re-examination of the failure of the Italian government to develop a sound policy of land use and control. Over the past twenty years there have been numerous laws to answer this particularly strong need in Italy, but they have been largely ineffective or simply ignored.
The transferring of FEMA models of disaster intervention to the Italian setting raises serious problems regarding cultureal appropriateness.
It is not sufficient to copy the American intervention manual and regulations, if the country where these methods are applied lacks a basic orientation toward nonoverlapping forms of governmental responsibility. In Italy the entire national administrative system operates on the principle of multiple overlapping functions, in order to accommodate claims for power by various parties and groups. There is almost no governmental program over which at least three ministries do not have some form or other of jurisdiction, thus assuring overlaps, conflicts, and inefficiency.
The local authorities decided to sublet empty apartments and relocate the homeless people there. But several local citizens who had empty apartments in undamaged buildings refused to rent.
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By December the local administration was considering requisitioning the empty apartments to provide lodging to those who had lost their homes, with the government paying rents at a fixed price. The parish priest of Episcopio was predicting that the emergency conditions would prevail till the end of summer He had put together a civic committee of 30 leaders to monitor the situation and to apply pressure on the national and regional authorities for prompt action. Every two weeks they would hold a town meeting in the "duomo" mother church that had been the seat of a bishopric in past times.
On Friday, May 29, from 7 to p. The church was crammed with over people; the authorities sat on the dais by the altar. After brief reports by the parish priest, the mayor, and the head of COM, the debate was open to the public and pandemonium followed. There was screaming, recriminations, insults, arguing back and forth until nearly midnight, when the parish priest over the loudspeaker announced that the meeting was over.
People began to disperse, but the discussion, arguing, and yelling went on in smaller groups along the streets of the town. We were informed that many such meetings have been held periodically since then, but apparently they never succeeded in properly mobilizing the local population or impressing upon the national and regional authorities the need to intervene with a comprehensive reconstruction and prevention plan.
In spite of the government's promises and notwithstanding the allocation of government funds however limited , the disaster area showed little change from the time of the last visit. In the media the leading news related to the disaster covered the various court cases still going on to determine the responsibilities of public authorities in the handling of the disaster, and the notable reappearance of organized crime.
The mayor of Sarno had been indicted for murder in the second degree for the death of the mudslide's victims. Salerno Attorney General Sessa had already begun an inquiry into responsibilities for the disaster in May Regularly, on rainy days the entire area was placed on state of alert, in anticipation of renewed mudslides.
Several people we interviewed manifested a deep-seated anguish and apprehension that the disaster could happen again at any rainy moment. They appeared resigned to their fate and totally devoid of any reliance on the authorities to protect them from the recurrence of the disaster.
The local press and the local chapter of the WWF has publish several articles and reports to the effect that Sarno has been betrayed and completely forgotten by the national authorities. Because of the geological configuration of the mountains and the proximity of an extensive habitat at its feet, any prolonged precipitation may, at any time, provoke additional mudslides and destruction, until badly needed, but enormously expensive, protective public works have been completed. This is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Consequently Sarno and the surrounding areas remain under the constant threat of being buried under additional mudslides.
What is most important, however, is that the sociocultural conditions, both national and local, that account for the mudslides are still present and unremittingly operative. The government has been unable to formulate and enforce a rational plan of land use, conservation, and protection, or engage in a much-needed program of large-scale reforestation. The illegal construction of houses in the area has not abated, nor has the uncontrolled grazing that prevents useful vegetation from taking stronger roots on the mountain slopes.
Summer fires mostly started criminally by local people continue to denude more and more acres of wooded mountainsides. The proposed holding dams to attenuate at least the first thrust of eventual mud slides have not yet been built. What is most appalling is the fact that no comprehensive reconstruction plan has been formulated, and therefore those who lost their homes to the mudslide have been left to their own devices to find new abodes with the limited financial subsidies received from the government.
Many local young people have opted once again for the alternative of emigration, which had all but stopped in the years preceding the disaster. Of the 5, people that inhabited Episcopio, the Sarno suburb most badly affected by the mudslide, 1, have emigrated in the months since the event, apparently never to return again to their native home. Emigration represents the most revolutionary response that an individual can make to an intolerable social condition.
Emigration says that, however pleasant and comfortable one's native place may be, it is not worth holding on to, if it does not provide basic fulfillment of human needs. However unfamiliar, a foreign culture becomes more desirable and embraceable than one's own, especially if that native culture is characterized by a negative culture of disaster. But not everyone in the Sarno area has opted for change. In the course of the past two years all evidence has pointed to the mayor of Sarno as being ineffective, incapable of making decisions and keeping the situation under control. He has been unable to motivate the state and the region to actually spend the several hundred million dollars allocated for reconstruction.
Several court proceedings are pending against him and over half of the members of the city council including some from his own party have resigned in protest against his administrative policies, seen as tainted with considerable bribery, profiteering, and embezzlement. The regional governor, Antonio Rastrelli, on the other hand, who visited Sarno the day after the mudslide and worked hard to provide help and reconstruction funds, lost Sarno's electorate that voted overwhelmingly for his opponent, Antonio Bassolino. Undoubtedly its geological conditions place the area at physical risk.
But for hundreds of years a pattern of enlightened intervention at the hand of a centralized monarchy the Bourbons , using heavy social control, had provided the necessary disaster mitigation. With the advent of democracy, however, the area has deteriorated into a free for all of deviant and often criminal behavior.
The latency of the government has given local criminal chieftains, and the population in general, free hand to indulge in generalized criminal the consequences of which affect not only people but the ecosystem of the area as well. The lack of preparedness for disaster and the inability to handle its onset and its aftermath are consistent with the overall negative culture of the area and make it inevitable that, like several other previous major disasters in the area such as the earthquake of the nearby Irpinia and Basilicata , there will be no real recovery and reconstruction after the Sarno mudslide, but only an ongoing patch-up leading to further disastrous happenings in the future.
La Crepa. Milan: Mondadori Editore. A cogent account of the disaster and of the responsibilities for it written by the director of a leading Italian TV network who was born in Sarno. Dossier distributed on January 18, , by the Italian Legambiente, predicting mudslides risks of the area. Caporale, Rocco. Rapporto di ricerca sulle aree industriali post-sismiche della Basilicata , Documentazione Regione Basilicata, Potenza. A full report on my research on the industrialization program in Basilicata [Italy].
Quarantelli and C.
Pelanda, Editors. Regione Basilicata, Matera. Caporale, Rocco and Ino Rossi.
Mimeograph Report No.