Turkish Society of Rochester to provide relief for earthquake-damaged homeland

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — News coming out of Turkey keeps getting worse, and worse as the numbers of the dead and injured continue to rise.

Two powerful tremors and several aftershocks still hamper both rescue and recovery operations more than 24 hours since the ground began to shake. The latest tally has more than 3,700 people reported dead.

The first 7.8 magnitude earthquake happened early Monday morning in Turkey. Shortly after that, another 7.5-magnitude quake happened about 100 miles away from the first one. The death toll is expected to rise even more.

News10NBC talked to members of Rochester’s Turkish community about the quake and how they are trying to help family and friends back home.

The Rochester area is home to over 4,500 Turkish people. Since news first broke about the 7.8 magnitude quake, many of them have been coordinating ways to collect some much-needed emergency money.

“I was in shock. So at first is this really happening?” That was Sami Yorulmazlar’s first reaction when he heard that a 7.8 earthquake hit his Turkish homeland. Now living in Irondequoit, he’s half a world away from his loved ones who were affected by the quake.

“I have family members who are currently on the streets right now because their house is either a wreck or it’s damaged. They can’t go back into their house because there are aftershocks,” said Yorulmazlar.

Communication with Turkey’s hardest-hit cities has been tough at times.

“I tried to reach out to my family members that I couldn’t reach out for a while so then I got more concerned. Once I heard from them, me and my wife just sat in front of the TV and just followed the news,” said Yorulmazlar.

Nihat Selcuk, President of the Turkish Society of Rochester says he’s barely slept since hearing about the earthquake.

“Very heartbroken that this has happened in my beautiful country, and the people we’ve seen on the news of the lives that’s lost,” says Selcuk.

Monday afternoon the Turkish Society opened its doors and immediately started collecting money for survivors and the injured. Ali Menga donated what he could give for now.

“I came here. Our community is united. Do the best that I can for the donation. So we help as best we can, and we’ll send what we donate as soon as possible in my country to help those people. That’s all we can do.” said Menga.

A GoFundMe page was added to the Turkish Society’s Facebook page.

“You know we send the money to buy blankets, food, clothing, beds. Anything they’re gonna need,” said Yorulmazlar.

Money can also be dropped off in person.

“So we’re going to be here from 4 to 8 until the end of this week to collect more funds, and then once we collect enough then we will be connected with the government officials and pass it on to them,” said Yorulmazlar.

You can find the GoFundMe here. You can donate on the society’s Facebook page as well. The organization is requesting baby formula, first aid kits and medication.