Flood of Giampilieri and Scaletta, 14 years have passed: we have not forgotten you

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By John

Monica Balascuta, Carmela Maria Barbera, Santi Bellomo, Carmela Cacciola, Giuseppa Calogero, Concetta Cannistraci, Roberto Carullo, Luigi Costa, Ketty De Francesco, Elena De Luca, Francesco De Luca, Ilaria De Luca, Agnese Falgetano, Letterio Laganà, Maria Li Causi , Francesco Lonia, Lorenzo Lonia, Teresa Macina, Leo Maugeri, Christian Maugeri, Letterio Maugeri, Francesca Micali, Simone Neri, Carmela Olivieri, Katia Panarello, Santina Porcino, Maria Restuccia, Carmelo Ricciardello, Martino Scibilia, Bartolo Sciliberto, Maria Letizia Scionti, Salvatore Scionti, Alessandro Sturiale, Onofrio Sturiale, Giuseppe Tonante, Salvatore Zagami.
Every promise is debt. Interpreting the sentiment of the people of Messina, the “Gazzetta” had made a commitment to the people of Giampilieri and Scaletta, Briga, Altolia, Molino and Santa Margheritaand of all the other villages affected by the flood of 1 October 2009: «We will not forget you». And now that 14 years have passed since the tragedy, the memory of those 36 names, 36 stories, 36 little ones, elderly people, women, courageous men, is anything but extinguished.
And let us remind you too the thirty-seventh victim, the “unidentified” one, who no one ever knew who he was, like an “unknown soldier”. Did you come from abroad? We will never know. Did she have a family? Children? We like to think that precisely that nameless body is, instead, the sum of all the other 36 names, of all the pain, of all the solidarity, of all the hopes. We like to imagine it as a light that indicates the way to the future, as a sign of love that no mudslide can ever erase. The same love that animated, and animates, the communities of those villages, their desire for reconstruction.
Fourteen years later we return to pray in front of the plaque which, at the beginning of Giampilieri Superiore, recalls the names and surnames of those who were carried away by the murderous “river”. Today the masses, in the churches of all the small villages of the valley, will be dedicated to the 37 dead and their loved ones, to the pain of those who survived. And it is inevitable that the mind returns to those moments. It had been a morning of sun and swimming in an unusually warm sea, that first of October 2009. The forecast spoke of a worsening of the weather in the afternoon, but no one could have ever predicted what would happen. Only when the sky in the southern area (while the sun continued to shine in the rest of the city) suddenly became dark, a black that had not been seen in these parts for time immemorial, a black that was gradually illuminated from an increasingly frequent, increasingly threatening lightning storm, people began to fear. Then, what we all defined as the most violent “water bomb” ever to have occurred in Messina, because it was all concentrated in a small patch of territory and because it was continuously fueled by the heat of the sea waters. There had been a very strong alarm bell, in Giampilieri, a few years earlier, but in another area of ​​the hillside. AND instead the mountain, looming over Piazza Pozzo, the heart of the village, began to vomit everything: water, mud, debris. And it was a catastrophe. In the same hours the crazy torrent ran furiously towards the sea, at Scaletta Zanclea, overwhelming every case, even those buildings built in the river bed.
We are no longer interested in remembering the controversies of those very sad days, even if many of us have never forgotten the absurd media coverage of the tragic event by the main press and television organs, which defined the Giampilieri and Scaletta flood as a a sort of “curse” that has fallen on lands of abusive and illegal activity. Today what matters is the life of the people who still reside in these villages, of those who never wanted to leave. The works carried out and the prevention interventions that concern this area, like all the others in our territory, count. Sharing the pain counts (wounds like this never heal again) and of the future. For those 36 names and surnames, for those 36 lives cut short. And for that thirty-seventh, the story that sums them all up, the nameless body, today the light of rebirth.