Several Atlanta-based Turkish business and cultural groups are organizing a relief fund for victims of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit the eastern part of that country Oct. 23.
More than 270 people have been confirmed killed by the quake and several aftershocks, while thousands are homeless. Atlanta’s Istanbul Center and Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast U.S. are accepting donations to the Istanbul Center Turkey Earthquake Relief Fund for relief and reconstruction.
Contributions can be mailed to the Istanbul Center’s office at Two Midtown Plaza, 1349 West Peachtree St., Suite 1010, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.
Donations can also be sent online via PayPal from the center’s website at www.istanbulcenter.org or wired directly to the fund at Wells Fargo & Co. bank account number 6020584402.
The Atlanta chapter of the American Turkish Friendship Council is also collecting funds to repair a school or dormitory in the eastern city of Van, Turkey, which is in the region most badly affected by the quake.
Donations to this fund can be sent to: ATFC, 1266 West Paces Ferry Rd., Unit 257, Atlanta, Georgia 30327. Checks should be made out to the American Turkish Friendship Council and have Van Earthquake Relief Fund in the memo line.
CHICAGO TURKS RALLY FOR EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
Turkish-Americans in the Chicago area are hoping to raise at least $50,000 for relief efforts, in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in their homeland.
More than one hundred people died in the eastern city of Ercis, where the quake was centered, with another hundred confirmed dead in Van, about 30 miles away. Over a thousand people were injured, when the powerful quake hit Sunday, and rescue officials feared the casualty tolls would go much higher.
“There is a possibility that we will have a thousand people killed by the devastation of the earthquake,” said Suleyman Turhan, President of the Turkish American Federation of the Midwest. “That’s going to come out by the time the rescue efforts are completed in a couple of days.”
Dramatic rescue pictures were beamed worldwide by Turkish television networks, from a nation which knows the heartbreak of such powerful forces of nature all too well. More than 17,000 died when a quake hit northwestern Turkey, including the city of Istanbul, in 1999.
Rescue teams responding to the weekend quake in Van province worked through a cold night, searching for those who might still be alive in the rubble.
“The thing we don’t know yet is that all those people, much more in rural areas, they haven’t reported back as to the casualties,” said Fatih Yildiz, Turkish consul general in Chicago. “Since it happened in the middle of the day, no one knows where those people were during the earthquake.”
Search teams have expressed hope that some collapsed residential buildings might have been empty, with many residents at work when the tremor hit.
Turkey lies at the intersection of three major fault lines, and quakes are not an unusual occurrence there. Because of that, and especially in the aftermath of the 1999 quake, special precautions have been taken in new construction, and the nation has gone to considerable effort to train rescue teams.
“That’s what we are trying to do nowadays in Turkey,” said Yildiz, the Chicago consul general. “You know, raise awareness about how you cope with the effects of the earthquakes. In fact, how to live with the facts that earthquakes bring to the life of the people in Turkey.”
Indeed, the Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said some 15,000 tents had been distributed in the earthquake region, and that field kitchens had been set up to feed an estimated 25,000 people.
The tragedy struck during what was to have been a festive time this week, the 88th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic.
“We are somewhat being tested in terms of our solidarity and standing together against some odds that nature brings us,” Yildiz said, noting that there has been a tremendous outpouring of support for the earthquake victims from throughout the nation. The government said over 1200 aid workers from over 30 nearby towns, and at least 145 ambulances had joined in the rescue efforts.
Chicagoans wishing to help with the relief efforts can donate through the website of the Turkish American Society of Chicago. The address is www.tascweb.org.
FUNDRAISER AT CLIFTON RESTAURANT TO AID VICTIMS OF TURKEY QUAKE
CLIFTON — A fundraiser will be held Thursday at Toros Restaurant to raise money for victims of the recent earthquake in eastern Turkey that killed more than 400 people.
Members of about a dozen Turkish-American cultural and business groups from North Jersey and New York will attend show their support, said organizer Derya Taskin, of Paterson. The public also is invited to the fundraiser, which includes food donated by the restaurant and desserts from Taskin Bakery.
People may donate what they wish to relief efforts, which will be used in nonprofit and government relief efforts, Taskin said. The restaurant is located at 489 Hazel St. and the event starts at 7 p.m.
The fundraiser is part of a greater effort by the Turkish-American community to help earthquake victims. About 4,689 Turkish residents live in North Jersey, according to the latest census figures, with the highest concentrations residing in southern Passaic and southeast Bergen counties.
Helping Hands Relief Foundation, based in Carlsdadt, has collected about $10,000 in donations since the earthquake struck Sunday, said the group’s president, Nevzat Yilmaz.
Several people also have called to offer their services if Helping Hands decided to send a team of volunteers to the region, as it has to Haiti, Kenya and other disaster-struck areas. “We are keeping in touch with organizations [in Turkey] and if they need people to help, we will organize a group,” Yilmaz said. Source: Northjersey.com