Towards mid-September, five months after the earthquake, I started to once again drive around the areas that were affected. I wanted to go back there. I wanted to go, I wanted to allow myself time, time that I could use to contemplate and find a new perspective. I wanted to do all the things I didn’t have time to do in the weeks following the first earthquake of May 20th, where I found myself directly involved, not only as a photographer compelled to report, but as a helpless soul, who, with so many others, was forced to live and endure this tragic event.
I witnessed the setup of the aid camp in Finale Emilia, the night after the first quake; in the last days of September I could see the closing of the last camps in Cavezzo, San Felice sul Panaro and Carpi. The last camp, that used to host about 150 people right in the city of Carpi, was dismantled at the beginning of October.
Five months after this terrible earthquake hitting the region of Emilia Romagna, not all those who were evacuated live -as some say- in solid buildings (houses or hotels); many still live -and will be living all through the winter- in makeshift shelters. The challenges of starting over and rebuilding, for the families and businesses hit by the earthquake, are far from being solved.
The data provided by the Civil Protection, five months after the first shakes, say that over 15,000 people have been assisted, and inspections and technical examinations have been carried out in over 40,000 buildings and more than 400 schools in order to issue Certificates of Use and Occupancy. They say that over 220,000 tons of ruins have been removed so far, but this figure is bound to increase: driving through these towns, one can see homes and public buildings being demolished on a daily basis.
My images tell about these places and landscapes: ruins of factories or warehouses collapsed on the day of the double earthquake, May 29th, 2012. Ruins that had to be seized, because the collapse buried the bodies of four workers for days. Warehouses that are once again functional places of work, sound and secure, others, on the contrary, that have been demolished because they are completely unfit for use. Structures, actually tensile structures, built to replace those places of work no longer there. Rubble of every sort, piles of bricks gathered and stacked in public and private landfills. Tents abandoned in the camps, or in some cases, willingly left where they had been set up, as a simple precaution. Fear, it’s still here, the signs are evident: it’s proven by the many trailers parked in the yards and gardens of private residences, by the keepsakes left by those who lost someone they loved, not only the house they built thanks to a life of sacrifice. Wounds have reshaped this landscape and changed forever the lives of its people.
But these are only signs.