CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Days after a catastrophic earthquake impacted southern Turkey and northern Syria, aid from across the world continues to pour in. In the Capital Region, the Turkish community has organized a donation center to take clothes and other necessities.
Pictures and videos close to the epicenter have captured the extent of the devastation. Many buildings have been reduced to rubble and 17,000 people have died to this point.
“The devastation is huge. Everyone of us, a family member has lost their life,” said Ramiz Turan, who is helping to lead the donation effort at the former Save-A-Lot on Broadway in Menands.
Turan is originally from central Turkey, and says the local Turkish community is doing all it can to assist those in need, “We are very small but, it’s just a drop of water, it’s something. It’s something. We’re not looking at it, how much we will help them, we’re looking at it, we want to help.”
Donations officially began in Menands at noon on Wednesday, but before then, dozens of boxes and bags were already filling the former supermarket.
The donation center, run entirely by volunteers, worked to itemize and box up the supplies. From Menands, the group will send a truck to the Turkish Consulate in Manhattan, which will then send everything to Turkey.
“Boxes keep coming, people keep coming, all these people, most of them don’t know each other, but they want to come to help,” Turan explained, noting that groups and people have continuously reached out to see what they can do to help.
Efforts like these, are just one of the ways to help the victims, many of whom lost everything during the 7.8 magnitude quake.
“We’re talking about a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions,” said José Holguin-Veras, the Director of CITE and Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Holguin-Veras has spent time in a number of disaster areas, studying the impacts natural disasters like earthquakes can have on communities and logistics. The professor visited Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as Haiti in 2010, a scene he called “apocalyptic”.
In times of need like these, he says monetary donations to local groups in Turkey and Syria can have the greatest impact, “That could basically buy supplies locally, and they have the networks and they have the know-how on how to deliver the stuff.”
Holguin-Veras went on to explain that following a disaster, up to 60% of donations that come into areas are non-priority items that can bog down a country, or community’s logistical network.
With many losing their homes and everything inside them, and with harsh winter weather impacting the area, Holguin-Veras says providing shelter is a top priority.