Italian earthquake

In the early hours of the morning on the 24th of August 2016 a substantial earthquake devastated a string of mountain towns and villages in central Italy, killing at least 290 people and leaving many unaccounted for. The 6.2 magnitude quake, which was followed by several aftershocks, struck at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome. Worst affected were the towns of Accumoli and Amatrice and the villages of Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto.

The earthquake badly damaged the centre of Amatrice, shown in these two pictures of the same street before and after the quake - 24 August 2016Before and after photos of the main street of Amatrice.

Bruce and I felt compelled to help in some small way, but not wanting to impede the emergency relief efforts we decided to take donations to the nearest ‘safe’ town, Rieti which is some 40km from Amatrice. It was heartwarming to see so many people working to organise, sort and categorise donations to distribute to those worst affected.

In such emergencies people’s needs change on a daily, if not hourly, basis. We asked what would be most useful, what supplies were they most in need of. It was suggested that we should buy toiletries.

Initially I was surprised by this suggestion, but then realised that many of the townsfolk had lost everything, they were safe, possibly in shock and they were dusty and dirty.  Soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes are not life saving supplies,  but as far as feeling human, being to be able to wash and brush your teeth would offer some level of comfort.