Disaster Relief in Van

I spent last week in Van, working through the local municipality with a team of foreigners building shelters for displaced earthquake victims.  Unlike the tents most people are staying in, these shelters are insulated and have a metal roof that is water proof.

I was surprised to see the actual infrastructure of the city is still mostly in tact. Although most buildings have serious peripheral damage (a lot of crack facades) relatively few buildings have serious structural damage. Yet the fear of another larger earthquake bringing down their already weakened houses has driven many inhabitants of Van to sleep outside in below freezing temperatures.

Sadly, more than half of the inhabitants of the city have chosen to move rather than rebuild, most going to Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir.   It seems that this economic hit will affect the city more than the actual earthquake.  I hope that Van will be able to recover, but many of the locals we talked to were not optimistic.

With a warm, dry place to spend the winter, it will be easier for people to wait until their houses have been inspected and repaired. We built shelters for 15 families while I was there, but obviously many still remain in need. I wish I could have stayed longer and helped more, but my prayers are still with Van.

About mjbutterworth

Coffee. Books. Bicycles.
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