Turkey’s eastern Van Province was rocked by a 7.2 earthquake on October 23rd, leaving 604 people dead and 28,000 houses uninhabitable. Following severe aftershocks this week that caused further collapse many people are afraid to return to buildings which are not damaged for fear of further seismic activity.
I haven’t managed to find a single organisation accepting unskilled or unaffiliated volunteers (as usual) but there is certainly much to be done. Turkey sits on two major fault lines and has experienced many large and devastating earthquakes in its history. Having been spared for a decade the country is well prepared with stocks of tents and other relief items. Neighbouring countries have also offered equipment and experts to assist the community. Heavy equipment has moved in quickly and with a particularly young local population, labour is on hand as and when the rubble clearance begins in earnest.
Given that Turkey is well developed and that the response to this disaster is well-coordinated and well supplied, it seems like the local community could support a handful of experienced and intrepid volunteers wanting to start digging through the rubble that the machines can’t reach. Much has been made, and rightly so, of the potential negative impact that unsolicited volunteers can have on local resources, including housing and food. Remembering that temperatures are well below freezing at night, a decent tent, some water purifying tablets and a giant sack of Pasta ‘n’ Sauce should ensure that you’re not a burden on this particular disaster-impacted area.
Pack a wooly hat and a shovel and let me know how it goes!