LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Rescue efforts continue today for people trapped under rubble following deadly earthquakes Monday and Sunday in Turkey and Syria. As of Tuesday afternoon, the death toll had risen to nearly 8,000 people.
The disaster across the globe is being felt close to home. Mehmet Adalar lives and works in Little Rock, but he grew in up in Gaziantep about 30 miles from where the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck.
“My father told me that it took almost two minutes, and he couldn’t even move while it was happening because of the shock, and I just can’t imagine. How would that be?,” Adalar said.
Adalar learned of the deadly Sunday quake affecting where he grew up from friends not long after it hit. His first thought was to reach out to family and those he knew to make sure they were okay.
“My whole childhood was in that town, and right now, all the images and the scenery they are showing everything is crumbled,” Adalar said.
He said his father, sister, and brother were spared, and they have driven from the city to seek shelter with family further from the quake. However, Adalar’s cousin’s home collapsed.
“He and his wife couldn’t survive, so that really affects me, but that’s the hard truth, unfortunately, that we will be facing,” Adalar said.
The death toll in Turkey and Syria is expected to rise. Freezing temperatures are adding another threat to those trapped, hypothermia.
Enes Erdin, also a Turkish Arkansan, has family who fears an aftershock or different quake could follow. He shared a video of his wife’s aunt sounding panicked as she fled the city of Adana.
“The area that is directly affected by the quake is around two-thirds of the state of Arkansas,” Erdin explained.
Both Adalar and Erdin are volunteers at the Arkansas Culture & Dialog Center, preserving Turkish culture for their children and dozens of others living in the Natural State. Now, they are hoping others can join in helping the people hurting beyond our borders.
Adalar said people are desperate for warm clothes, shelter or even a cup of soup.
“Such events they are horrible in some sense, but also make us united,” he stated.
Arkansas Culture & Dialog Center volunteers said the best way someone can help is by donating money due to how much more the American dollar is worth in Turkey and the surrounding countries. The nonprofit they recommend is Embrace Relief.