In the big box, Maya set up her toys and closed the two doors, sealed by a tape. Cardboard is "his house". Maya takes refuge there often, sometimes sleeping there. "She's afraid the ceiling will fall on her, explains Chaima, his mother. At night, she screams, she can not sleep … " For more than two months, the whole family has been living a nightmare. On December 9, Chaima had to leave her modest X apartmente arrondissement of Marseille. Part of the ceiling fell on her as she prepared the evening meal. When the firefighters arrived, they gave him a few minutes to take the necessary. "I took some soup," says the mother, still stunned by his reaction.
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Head to one of the hotels in the city, where she has been living since with her daughter, 16-year-old son and 75-year-old uncle. Like Chaima, they are nearly 2,000 Marseilles have been dislodged from their apartment since November 5. That day, in the neighborhood of Noailles, in the heart of Marseille, two buildings collapsed, killing eight people. A trauma for the city, followed by a panic reaction on a large scale: after the tragedy, reports of threatening buildings are multiplying. To avoid any reply, the town hall organizes preventive evacuations at a glance. When the verdict falls, the dislodged often have only a few minutes to organize and gather the essential. The lucky ones found refuge with family or friends. The others have been installed in several hotels. Nearly 220 buildings were emptied in view of a rising or confirming doubt.
Three months after the first evacuation, only 20% have been able to return to their home, after verification of technical services or completion of work. For the others, to the violent shock of a dislocation without premeditation is added a less visible evil. A psychological and daily chaos between wandering, endless paperwork and uncertainties on the morrow. "It's as if the sky had fallen on us," sums Beatrice (1). 1st February, the thirties spent the evening in his home near the station when part of its floor collapsed. Firefighters intervene and decide to evacuate three apartments. Beatrice and her neighbors meet at the hotel.
"We feel uprooted, said the young woman. We live in 15 m², impossible to sleep, to eat properly. I am a Category B agent, I pay 800 euros rent per month, and here I live like a homeless person … " Like all the dislodged, faced with a mountain of administrative procedures, Béatrice began her journey at the reception area for evacuees, rue Beauvau. After the collapse of the two buildings, the town hall centralized all the services of assistance and support to the victims of the neighborhood, soon joined by hundreds of others from all over the city. This is also where the emergency medical-psychological unit (CUMP), a structure bringing together volunteer hospital workers involved in emergency situations, is set up.
Activated on November 5th, the cell had to extend its mission to face an extraordinary situation. A cataclysm that Dr. Flavie Derynck, head of the CUMP, compared to the one she experienced in St. Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma in 2017. "It's the same principle: everything is devastated and there is nothing left behind, people are wandering, explains the psychiatrist. It's the loss and sustainability of the loss. " To manage the "Hall-typhoon" As some health professionals have described, the CUMP has had to act on several fronts. The health emergency, first. "Many victims have lost all their relays: radios, balance sheets, treatments, prescriptions, details Flavie Derynck. They had to be reintegrated into their care path. Others have decompensated because of stress. Sleep disorders, anger, suicidal threats, psychosomatic problems … Today, we are rather confronted with chronic anxiety: people no longer have courage, lock themselves in their hotel, miss appointments. That's the danger, they're exhausted. "
A sanitary and psychological chaos that is all the more alarming because it seems endless. "This is an unprecedented situation, we are in the" traumatic ", completes the referent nurse for CUMP Céline Nguyen Lamouri. In other disasters, there is a beginning and an end, one can work on post-traumatic resilience. But what can we remobilize when people ask us where they will sleep in a week? "
If the everyday life at the hotel accentuates the difficulties, the distress does not disappear when the relocation, temporary or definitive, intervenes. "That's where they land, that they realize we have to start all over again, says Nassera Benmarnia, volunteer of the Collective November 5, created after the disaster to support the victims. Each step refers to the fact that they have lost everything. At first, we thought we had to cushion the shock. But this state of abandonment that they experienced for one, two, three months, this life of a wicket counter attendant has caused deep traumas. "
Faced with their distress, the Collective now hosts volunteers from the Psychological Support Coordination. This group of about fifteen professionals works throughout the neighborhood, in schools as well as in associations. "We receive tenants or undocumented, homeowners who can no longer pay their loan, merchants … All the social mix of the neighborhood is affected," emphasizes Evelyne Bachoc, psychoanalyst of the Coordination. Whatever the profile, "It's all their social life that has been deeply disturbed, Does analysis. We do not have time to see his friends, to frequent the places where we usually go. They are in a state of permanent over-adaptation where there is no time to exist. "
While coordination has focused on the city center, others have taken over in the various hotels where the most vulnerable people are hiding. For one month, Doctors of the World (MDM) has set up a "mental health" to meet them. "Initially, we had to intervene to identify the problems, recreate the link to the care, make the" go to ", explains Jean-Régis Rooijackers, a member of MDM. But very quickly, we were overwhelmed by the reports. " Volunteers on the spot alert them to critical cases, such as that of Chaima, the mother of Maya dislodged in early December. The forty-year-old, already damaged by a path of life chaotic, completely dark since its evacuation. "I lost 10 kilos, I can not sleep despite the seals … In the street, I cry and I speak alone", she says in tears, trying to control her trembling hands.
The reception of the street Beauvau, she does not go there anymore. "It is useless", She evacuated. Chaima is struggling to contain her anger. To the mayor who does nothing, to the director of the school who preached about the delays of Maya, to the trustee of his building she has yet alerted for months on the problems of building, in vain. It was this pressure that caused her to implode a few days after the evacuation, when the city hall allowed her to return home to recover her belongings. On site, accompanied by the volunteer psychiatrist for Doctors of the World Vincent Girard, she meets the representative of his trustee. Chaima gets carried away, wants answers, recalls that his ceiling fell on him, in front of his children, that it could have been worse. "She said," It's placo, it does not kill! " It was too much, I had an epileptic seizure. "
The mother ends up in the hospital, but her ordeal is not over: a phone call informs her that her son, a fragile teenager, climbed onto the ledge of a disused building and threatens to commit suicide. Chaima runs out of the hospital and rejoins Dr. Girard, who is already there with the fire department and the police. He managed to calm the young man, hospitalized since. "The kid was very angry and worried about his mother, says the doctor. He wanted to talk to the mayor, the prefect, within twenty-four hours, otherwise he would jump. " Since this intervention, the doctor does not fester: "It's a family that is not at its first traumatic experience. This visit is a new trauma: they found on the spot the people who had not made the necessary for them for years! " If the psychiatrist now follows closely Chaima, it is all other cases, for the moment out of radar, that alarm him: "There is the bottom of the iceberg, those who do not manifest themselves out of fear and who prefer to stay in dangerous housing, he warns. The Abbé-Pierre Foundation estimates that poor housing concerns 40,000 people in Marseille. So potentially, the situation is twenty times worse. "
For the players in the field, the ball is now in the camp of the authorities, called to amplify the existing devices. "Exceptional circumstances require exceptional resources, hammer Nassera Benmarnia of the Collective November 5. If the institutions had reacted from the beginning, we would not be there. " Since the 1st February, the situation has changed a little. It is now the association France Horizon, an operator specializing in social support, which manages the reception area of dislodged. On the health side, the "psychological support" pole has already been strengthened. The teams of the CUMP are now supported by reservists while waiting more, the Regional Health Agency having been asked to strengthen the means. "There is always a problem of understanding on the part of the authorities, Flavie Derynck, the manager of the CUMP, is concerned. They have not yet hit as many as 2,000 people on the street, not to mention those who have not yet come forward, it is a public health problem. "
(1) The first name has been changed.
Stéphanie Harounyan correspondent in Marseille, photo Yohanne Lamoulère. Blurred trend