In Italy, earthquake survivors struggle to make a tent city feel like home
Gardens and kids' bikes are small signs of an effort to create some normalcy in one of more than 170 encampments that house residents of L'Aquila, badly damaged by an April 6 quake.
Wildflowers sit on a table and laundry hangs outside the Cordones' new home – a blue tent in an encampment on the outskirts of L'Aquila, a medieval walled city nestled in the mountains 60 miles east of Rome.Skip to next paragraph
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The family of three has lived here with more than 1,200 other people since the morning of April 6, when an earthquake cracked the ground and crumbled their home and much of their city.
The Cordones' old street is now strewn with rubble. It's near the center of L'Aquila, where more than 60,000 people once lived. The once-bustling narrow lanes are empty except for police, firemen, engineers, and the occasional pack of dogs.
These are the two worlds international leaders will confront when they gather here for the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in July.
One is the temporary tent city thriving with schools, a hospital, and canvas homes complete with potted plants, gardens, and kids' bicycles leaning outside.
Less than a mile away are remains of the centuries-old city, where 1 in 4 of the stone, stucco, and concrete buildings has collapsed or is now nothing but exterior shells.
Mr. Berlusconi has said the spartan nature of the accommodations is more in keeping with the difficult economic times. He's also hoping the attention on the devastated ancient city will help raise money to cover the estimated $10 billion in damages.
Despite a history of earthquake activity going back to the 14th century, fewer than 5 percent of the buildings were insured for earthquake damage.
Life in a tent city
The decision to move the international summit was applauded by many here in this makeshift camp. It is one of more than 170 such camps, set up by Italy's Civil Protection agency, that surround the outskirts of the old walled city.
Gigliola Mastropietro and her family have been here since the morning of the quake. She says the international attention gives her a sense of solidarity and hope.
Sitting outside one of the long rows of tents with her disabled mother, Irma Cerrone, and toddler daughter, Jessica, Ms. Mastropietro says they are living in a kind of limbo "in the hands of Civil Protection."