PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — While rescue teams in Italy continue to search the rubble for survivors after a tragic earthquake, communities back here in the United States are looking for ways to help.
The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome, where residents felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. The temblor was felt from the Lazio region into Umbria and Le Marche on the Adriatic coast.
The Rhode Island Red Cross told Eyewitness News on Wednesday they are ready to help with the relief effort. While they wait for orders from their national branch, local Rhode Islanders are starting initiatives of their own.
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Chef Walter Potenzo, who works in Providence, said he woke up Wednesday morning to hear that the disaster happened just 45 minutes from his hometown.
Potenza said he felt compelled to help and has asked other restaurants in the area to join him. He plans to donate the proceeds from a dish served at his restaurant.
“Nothing to my family and relatives but you understand, it hit close to home,” he said. “We will provide the recipe and again, I want to make sure this is understood: the money gets collected by us and then gets wired to the Red Cross in Italy.
Potenza said the information is on his website – but he urges anyone interested in joining the efforts to act fast. As a native Italian, Potenza said he knows all too well what happens after the tremors stop.
“They cannot sleep in schools or any other buildings that are standing because those have been labeled unsafe and so the people, of course, left everything behind,” he said. “Earthquakes are not just danger when it occurs. It’s dangerous for months to come.”
Antonio Dicicco, of Tony’s Colonial Food, said he’s trying to keep in touch with people living in the areas affected.
“They’re all in shock,” he said.
Dicicco said his family that lives in the town where the disaster happened were in Rome during the earthquake.
“They were lucky,” he said. “They left two days before this happened. Very lucky, because otherwise, you know, everything is destroyed.”
The Federal Hill Commerce Association told Eyewitness News on Wednesday they are also working on a plan to help victims.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.