It was early in the morning when I was awoken by a combination of strange sensations and noises: the bed was shaking; an abnormal, rumbling sound was coming from outside; car alarms were going off; neighbors were screaming.
While I lay there disoriented and confused, my Italian wife, Katia, knew exactly what was happening: “Terremoto!” she shouted. It was an earthquake! After the house shook aggressively for ten to fifteen seconds, it started swaying for about the same amount of time. Finally, it stopped and everything became, once again, still. Eerily still.
Katia and I immediately went downstairs and turned on our tablets hoping for some news. The quake was so violent where we lived, I was worried about the epicenter. Finally, news reports came in. It was bad.
The first reports were that the magnitude was 6.2 and the epicenter was close to Perugia, about seventy miles from where we live in Loreto, city known throughout the world for the Holy House of Mary. There was tremendous loss of life and property, the news said. The most affected areas were the mountain villages along the border of the Umbria, Lazio and the Marches, our region. The damage was catastrophic and some towns were razed to the ground.
It was August 24, 2016 when that first quake hit. Initially, the death toll was just two. But then it climbed to six, then ten, then twenty. Eventually, it reached 299 victims. Another 365 were injured, while approximately 2,100 people lost their homes. It was a true tragedy.