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  • Italy Recovers from Worst Earthquake in 30 Years
    Italians are pulling together to help the victims of the recent earthquake - and, if you'd like, you can help, too
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    A 6.3 magnitude earthquake shook the medieval town of L'Aquila and caused damage in the mountainous Abruzzo region north of Rome on April 6, 2009. Some of my friends and family all the way on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples felt the earthquake in the middle of the night. My husband who was awake at the time saw the lamps dance and the dresser drawers shake open. The damage and tragedy that this earthquake inflicted on the whole country of Italy shook the people to their core.

    It is the worst earthquake Italy has faced since the one in 1980 that struck just south of Naples. This time, nearly 300 people are known to be dead so far. About 40,000 people were left homeless by the earthquake. Many Italians, including Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, offered their homes to victims. Many have moved into tents in the area surrounding their former home, and teachers are even teaching children school under the canvas, according to the Times Online. The government estimates that reconstruction of the region will cost 12 billion euro.

    Still, there were some heroic rescues. Clicking on CNN or RAI in the days after the earthquake, you saw these beautiful images of people coming together either to save each other or to lend a shoulder for crying and mourning. A man buried under the rubble that was his home was saved and standing in the cold in his underwear; he embraced his savior and cried, clearly grateful to have a second chance at life.

    The film on television news was dramatic and often drew tears. Frequent aftershocks - some of which carried a 4.0 magnitude - in the days following the earthquake made search and rescue all the more difficult. Every person saved was a miracle. Every piece of a historic building saved has the potential to be the foundation for the future.

    Mourners gathered for a mass funeral, and Pope Benedict XVI is supposed to visit sometime soon, perhaps May 1, according to the Times Online. Many people in fact, have shown tremendous support. Italians in other parts of the world organized quickly to provide financial help to the region.

    You can be part of the solution, too. If you'd like to help, the National Italian American Foundation and the Orders of Sons of Italy in America are taking donations. There are many other groups doing the same, and some of my Italian friends even encouraged people through their Facebook pages to provide housing to those left homeless or to send money. Every little bit of help counts, so don't feel limited to NIAF and OSIA. Do your own research, consider groups to which you belong, and, if you can, find a way to make a difference that makes you comfortable.

    Di Meglio is the guide to Newlyweds for About.com.

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