Connecticut-Based Organizations Respond to Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Americares, based in Stamford, is working to send medical supplies to the region as soon as possible.

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After a powerful earthquake rocked large swaths of Turkey and Syria, Connecticut based organizations are working to provide aid to the people affected.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 2,800 people and collapsed thousands of buildings. Rescuers are battling freezing conditions as they search for survivors.

Connecticut based organization, Save the Children, has teams on the ground to help. In Turkey, teams are working to assess needs and plan on handing out winterization and emergency kits, including blankets and winter clothing.

"This is one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in 100 years and made thousands homeless, while the region is experiencing freezing weather and snowstorms," said Sasha Ekanayake, Turkey country director for Save the Children, said in a press release.

In northwest Syria, the organization said they are working closely with partner organizations to assess the scale of the damage.

Americares, based in Stamford, is also helping. They are gathering medical supplies to send to the region as soon as possible. A spokesperson for Americares said that the most urgent needs are around trauma care and wound care.

"There are urgent immediate needs, but then there are going to be ongoing needs as well in the community and the health infrastructure is going to need to help rebuilding as well," said Cora Nally, who leads international emergency response for Americares.

Turkish people living in Connecticut also stressed the importance of finding ways to help.

Resul Cesur, a health economist working at the University of Connecticut, is originally from Turkey. His parents still live there, but far from where the earthquake happened. Cesur lived in Turkey in 1999 when another earthquake caused devastation.

"Me and my family, we slept in streets for a few days," said Cesur.

While he said that it is important for people all over to seek ways to help in the earthquake's aftermath, he also said he hopes something can be learned from the earthquake in Turkey as it relates to building codes and long term policy.

The region affected, southeast Turkey and northern Syria, is frequently shaken by earthquakes.

"That’s the sad part because it repeats itself. It is predictable. We see it," said Cesur.

The owner of Saray Turkish Restaurant in West Haven, Sammy Kuru, is also originally from Turkey. His parents live far enough away from the region that they are safe, but close enough that they could feel the shaking.

Kuru said that while he was in West Haven Monday, his mind and heart were in Turkey. Once they learn more about what help is needed, Kuru said they will find a way to help.

 “We have to come together and make this decision," said Kuru. "Best we can do, we have to do it.”

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