Please note: After several successful years, the Open Minds blog will be closing. For further details, please visit our FAQ

Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Disaster risk

24 Nov 14 16:36

What happens when you depend on Madonna or the government to rebuild your town?

Apparently nothing.

And that's exactly what has happened in L'Aquila, the Italian town that was devastated by an earthquake in 2009, according to The Daily Beast.

Over 300 people were killed during the April 2009 quake. Of the 70,000 residents who lived there at the time, 20,000 have moved away. Of the 50,000 who stayed, most still live in temporary housing five years later. Restructuring may top EUR 525 million, according to the report.

It also says that stars such as Madonna and Carla Bruni (France's first lady at the time of quake) made well-publicized pledges to help rebuild: Madonna to the tune of USD 500,000, and Ms Bruni, half the cost to restore a historic church. Both have family ties to the area and/or country. The Daily Beast says that neither have fulfilled their promises.

Also named as not making good on their pledges: the US and Spain. "France, Germany and Russia are a few of the G8 countries that have so far made good on their pledge," says the report.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the money not coming in - from the pop stars who perhaps got caught up in the moment, to the officials who allegedly pocketed money meant for reconstruction.

I won't get into the above, but I do have a question: does it even make sense to have expectations that goodwill will prevail in the wake of a disaster in the first place? Should we really expect the Material Girl and Company to pawn a couple of Grammys and make donations to rebuild a town?

L'Aquila shows why making urban resilience a reality isn't a job for celebrities or governments. Depending on them is as logical as prosecuting seismic experts for deaths during the quake.

What do you think?

Image: A damaged government office in L'Aquila. (TheWiz83 / Wikipedia)

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk, Earthquakes

Location: L'Aquila, Italy


Lydia - 5 Dec 2014, 5:55 p.m.

Very interesting post, Rashunda! I've had the pleasure to spend quite a number of years over the course of my career in Insurance working in Italy- and a big part of the problem (especially looking at the L'Aquila case) is that there is a very different risk culture than we have in the US or other countries. Not only is there the general perception that the government will pay for losses (and, in this case, there are still a lot of people living in government trailers there)- but there is a very limited insurance offering for homeowners and even less awareness that products exist or that there is a need (despite the fact that Italy does have a number of fault lines)! It is now a bit more common to have mandatory homeowner-esque coverages when banks issue mortgages, but the driver there isn't making the property owner whole but rather making sure mortgages don't get defaulted on. This is a fascinating and very complicated issue locally-

Rashunda Tramble - 8 Dec 2014, 10:28 a.m.

Yes this sounds really complicated. Any measures in place in the area - or even in Italy as a whole - to raise awareness about insurance products? It's just not logical to believe the country's government will pay for losses. There are too many things at play: the economy, bureaucracy, etc.

If you would like to leave a comment, please, log in.