How do you respond to a 7.2 earthquake…

How do you respond to a 7.2 earthquake…

that happens
approximately 780 miles away from you?

On Sunday 23 Oct. 2011 the area around Van and Ercis, Turkey, experienced a 7.2 earthquake and has experienced many aftershocks since then.

…that happens approximately 780 miles away from you?

On Sunday 23 Oct. 2011 the
area around Van and Ercis, Turkey, experienced a 7.2 earthquake and has
experienced many aftershocks since then.

The death toll had reached at
least 459 by Tuesday 25 Oct.  1350 people
were injured. 2600 buildings were damaged or destroyed. 1000 buildings
collapsed. It is widely believed that building codes all over Turkey have not
been strictly enforced.

The earthquake zone is far
from Istanbul where we live. It is near the Turkish border with Iran. Van is a
city of at least 370,000 people. Ercis, Turkey has a population of around
77,000 people.

At the time of the 1999
earthquakes the government was completely unable to cope with the disasters.
This week in Van the government response has been described as faster and more
efficient. Still distributing the aid, especially outside the city of Van, has
been difficult. More tents and prefabricated buildings are needed.

The city of Van has a crisis
management center which centralizes the response to the disaster. We have used
our contact with one of our graduates involved in disaster relief training to
learn what is needed in the area now. One Great Hour of Sharing has given us a small
grant to purchase baby diapers. The local shipping companies transport these
items free of charge. Our contact will make certain the items get to the crisis
center.

We worry about how migrants,
refugees and asylum seekers in Van are faring. Some of these people are very
poor and live in the worst of the worst housing. We learned that the NGOs in
Van that work with refugees have all moved into the UN Refugee building because
their own buildings were damaged. At least there are people there whose job it
is to protect refugees.

As we write we are still in
the rescue period after the earthquake. The recovery period will begin shortly.

Our schools are collecting
toys and clothing for children. Four psycho social support centers will be
established as soon as possible to counsel children in the area during the
recovery period. They will need books, toys, coloring books, play dough and art
materials. Tents and prefabricated housing will also be needed.

Since the 1999 earthquakes in
the Black Sea Region near Istanbul the seismic codes have been strengthened and
more strictly enforced. Buildings have been accessed and retrofitted. But the
task is huge and the loss of life in the Van area shows how much more must be
done.

Ken and Betty Frank

Istanbul, Turkey

Ken
& Betty Frank serve with the American Board in Istanbul, Turkey.  They share the job of General Secretary of
the American Board.  They also serve on
the board of the Istanbul
Interparish Migrant Program (IIMP).