A Prince George woman is back home after a trip to Italy during last week’s deadly earthquake.
Joanne Jurista was visiting family in her hometown of Celano, Italy. She describes a night in Italy that shook her to the bone. “The bed started to go back and forth, stuff in the bedroom on the dressers were starting to fall off, and I’m going ‘oh my God,” she said. “My cousin ran into the room and she says quick, get up, get up, we have to leave now, earthquake is happening, we have to leave now.”
Originally, Jurista wasn’t supposed to travel to Italy, but her brother surprised her a couple of weeks ago with the trip. It was on her final day there however, while visiting the resort city of Pescara when the weather began to change. “The wind was horrendous, the lifeguards were right by the ocean, they wouldn’t let anybody in the water, so we sat around there and my cousin said, somethings going to happen tonight, she says this is weird.”
Her cousin was right. At 3:20 in the morning an earthquake hit the centre of Amatrice, a town just 100 kilometres north of Celano where Jurista was staying. Even the aftershocks were terrorizing. “About three minutes went by, we were standing outside and all of a sudden the earth moves beneath me,” she said. “They have an above ground pool and the waves in the pool, the water was coming out, so it was pretty scary stuff.”
By the latest estimate, more than 290 people have been killed by the 6.2 magnitude quake. President of the Prince George Italian Club, Ron Polillo says the club will be donating 500 dollars to the Canadian Red Cross Relief Fund. “It definitely has an impact on the Italian community here,” he said. “I was actually on vacation when the earthquake happened this week and immediately I got texts and emails from our members here saying what can we do to help.”
Jurista and her family are safe, but she can’t help but think of how lucky she is to be alive. “It’s just weird because even flying home, I was on the plane thinking if it hit Celano, everything is so old that it would just have come down in a heart beat.”