We should have understood it after almost 17,000 landslides and about 5,000 floods in the last 70 years with over 6,000 deaths and over a million displaced people and 4 billion damages on average per year, that time is everything to save human lives, property and territory. It is simply unacceptable to stand still, waiting for the next massacre. We owe it to the victims and to the immense pain that all the people of Ischia affected by the landslide make us feel today, forced to pay a very dear price for the long chain of errors and omissions, and for urgent and financed works that were never carried out.
Like the three projects envisaged by the Italiasicura mission structure of Palazzo Chigi for the “hydrogeological rehabilitation of the slopes of Casamicciola and Forio”, for “bridles, lamination tanks and reshaping of the buried canal via Monterone”, right there where the destructive landslides slipped. Cost about 14 million. It was 2017. But 2018 came, Italiasicura was closed by the Conte government and replaced with nothing, and even those works were interrupted, and we are paying the consequences.
But how many Ischias are there in Italy? This is a huge list.
A list with about 11,000 “hydraulic nodes” and “landslide areas” present in 7,423 Municipalities, 93.9%, practically all, with 1.3 million inhabitants at high risk of landslides and another 6.8 million Italians at high risk of flooding. But the closest multi-risk area to Ischia is Naples. Here it is another wonderful natural spectacle which lies on 119.02 km2 with 948,850 inhabitants and which could positively surprise us. Magical place, set in an enchanting gulf, envied for the beauties and emotions it contains and arouses. But even here Nature wanted to exaggerate, making it overlooked by the spectacular mountain of the Vesuvius volcano, and a stone’s throw from the Forum Vulcani or Campi Ardenti of the Campi Flegrei, one of the most evocative wild crossroads between history, legends and religion.
The adaptation to the huge melee against every event is something innate and unique in the world for the Neapolitans. Water and fire created problems and the first mythology already at the time of the Greek colonizers who arrived from Rhodes five thousand years ago with the initial settlement at the mouth of the Sebeto, the river with the initial name of the god Rubeolo, the first protector of the city which, in popular imagination, was the antagonist of the volcano Vesevo. What happened to the Sebeto, which once descended placidly from the slopes of Monte Somma and crossed the countryside to divide into two branches in the city, one flowing to the Ponte della Maddalena, the other to the slopes of Pizzofalcone, at the port of Partenope? Ancient tales recall it as rich in water and full of fish, but over the centuries it underwent detours and obstructions until it was buried until it disappeared even from the imagination, used as a drainage channel. Gone are the times when he was mythologized as the “Giant Sebeto” who opposed the “Giant Vesevo” with furious clashes. If Vesevo threw fire and flames, Sebeto hurled boulders from its waters. Naples today perfectly represents the Italy showroom of great natural hazards, shaped with the volcanic mountain and the seismic Apennines behind it, with its altimetric configuration. It ranks among the Italian municipalities with the highest percentage of artificial surfaces within the administrative boundaries with 63% of urbanized land, with areas at very high and high landslide risk for 14.8% of the municipal area with approximately 40,000 inhabitants, areas in hydraulic danger medium and low on which 33,000 people live and high water hazards with another 6,000 inhabitants. The galloping urbanization has greatly reduced the absorption capacity of rainwater and its flow. The subsoil is a tangle of fascinating tunnels of aqueducts, catacombs and hypogean environments dug into the tufaceous rock a few meters deep since ancient times.
Vesuvius is under special surveillance. The Civil Protection scenarios envisaged in the event of the awakening of colossal evacuations from red and yellow areas inhabited by 1,155,000 people in the various Vesuvian Municipalities, towards other Regions. The new red zone includes the territories of 25 municipalities in the provinces of Naples and Salerno, and Naples with subdivisions of the districts of San Giovanni a Teduccio, Barra and Ponticelli. In the new yellow zone there are 63 Municipalities and the entire VI Municipality. What to do? The lack of awareness of the risk, the unpreparedness for the actions to be taken, the problems of a mobility already congested by ordinary traffic which will see over 300,000 private and public vehicles move through the maze of streets between an anthill of buildings, shopping centers and , infrastructure .
Another supervised area is the Flegrea area with 24 craters and volcanic buildings with fumarolic and hydrothermal activity. Campi Flegrei have also always been a place of scientific research. But if Vesuvius can be seen, the subsoil n. And for this optical effect, over the centuries the area has been invaded by urbanization and here the emergency plan identifies another red zone and another yellow zone with 6 municipalities and 24 districts of Naples.
Fortunately, the seismicity of Naples is not high but it is dangerous if compared with the quality of the buildings. The urban area is in seismic zone 2 but the building stock, especially in the historic centre, is particularly vulnerable due to age and constructions with poor quality materials, types of construction, and state of maintenance. 75% of residential buildings are pre-1980 with median class 1919-1945. The share of masonry buildings is 51.1%. There are 1,528 cultural assets. A diagnostic campaign of buildings with even light shipbuilding with non-invasive technologies would be needed for a seismic adaptation program, starting from the buildings at greatest risk and from strategic plants.
The risk of extreme weather events is equally evident. Naples has undergone 18 events from 2010 to today, with sudden violent rainfall, storms and whirlwinds, storm surges, floods and landslides. Projections of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on climate change highlight it among the particularly vulnerable coastal areas. And the rise in sea level also makes the restyling of port and road infrastructures indispensable.
Here’s the thing. If from tragedies it can start from that spark that can produce miracles, Naples is today perfectly capable of performing the “miracle” of prevention, all the more having as first citizen Gaetano Manfredi, one of the greatest exponents of the city’s rich scientific heritage, bringing o forcing the Neapolitans to familiarize themselves with the concept of acceptable and manageable risk, which seems like an oxymoron but isn’t. It is the awareness that a level of danger, alas, will always exist, but it can be reached. No destiny imposes the expectation of an eruption or an earthquake or a landslide or a flood, but the defense from such events, and time must be used by deploying the inexhaustible energy of Naples in the fields of volcanology, engineering, geology, architecture , hydrology.
In the DNA of the city there are the Bourbons with the “Royal Academy of Naples” which after the terrible earthquakes with massacres of the ‘600-700 made it the world capital of the first anti-seismic building and of the first construction rules for the “new cities”. There is the scientific volcanic school of world excellence, the Vesuvius Observatory is the oldest and the most modern volcanological observatory in the world. And Naples is the ideal environment to be the first European urban area for multi-objective investments (with funds available in various chapters of public investments) for the largest urban construction site of monitoring technologies, web-gis platforms with digital risk maps , seismic micro-zoning, hydraulic modeling, real-time checks of landslide slopes, even long-term climatic projections for the best possible adaptation. The smartphone can become the digital “backpack” within everyone’s reach, allowing everyone to increase their level of knowledge of natural phenomena. The most important lifesaver.