Myths and realities about the recovery of L׳Aquila after the earthquake

Int J Disaster Risk Reduct. 2014 Jun;8:125-142. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2014.02.001.

Abstract

There is a set of myths which are linked to the recovery of L׳Aquila, such as: the L׳Aquila recovery has come to a halt, it is still in an early recovery phase, and there is economic stagnation. The objective of this paper is threefold: (a) to identify and develop a set of spatial indicators for the case of L׳Aquila, (b) to test the feasibility of a numerical assessment of these spatial indicators as a method to monitor the progress of a recovery process after an earthquake and (c) to answer the question whether the recovery process in L׳Aquila stagnates or not. We hypothesize that after an earthquake the spatial distribution of expert defined variables can constitute an index to assess the recovery process more objectively. In these articles, we aggregated several indicators of building conditions to characterize the physical dimension, and we developed building use indicators to serve as proxies for the socio-economic dimension while aiming for transferability of this approach. The methodology of this research entailed six steps: (1) fieldwork, (2) selection of a sampling area, (3) selection of the variables and indicators for the physical and socio-economic dimensions, (4) analyses of the recovery progress using spatial indicators by comparing the changes in the restricted core area as well as building use over time; (5) selection and integration of the results through expert weighting; and (6) determining hotspots of recovery in L׳Aquila. Eight categories of building conditions and twelve categories of building use were identified. Both indicators: building condition and building use are aggregated into a recovery index. The reconstruction process in the city center of L׳Aquila seems to stagnate, which is reflected by the five following variables: percentage of buildings with on-going reconstruction, partial reconstruction, reconstruction projected residential building use and transport facilities. These five factors were still at low levels within the core area in 2012. Nevertheless, we can conclude that the recovery process in L׳Aquila did not come to a halt but is still ongoing, albeit being slow.

Keywords: Disaster recovery; Earthquakes; GIS; Monitoring; Spatial indicators; Urban change.