At the heart of Italy's quake-struck L'Aquila was its namesake university and the 27,500 students the local bars, shops, and hostels relied on for customers. With many fleeing the crippled university and town that will take years to renovate, local shop owners wonder how they'll survive. “L’Aquila is finished,” a pub owner tell the AP. “The economy was based on the students.”
Italy has no basic recovery plan with which to rebuild crumbled L’Aquila—an estimated $16 billion venture. “Every time we need to start from scratch to reach the same results,” bemoans one official. The ad-hoc approach is vulnerable to delays, corruption, and unequal treatment of victims, experts say, likening the situation to America’s FEMA after Hurricane Katrina.