KAHRAMANMARAŞ, Turkey – Even after the wounded are treated and the trapped are freed from rubble, the disaster of the earthquakes in Turkey may continue due to other dangers.
The aftershocks of the earthquake could also manifest in the lack of water and sanitation, as well as frigid temperatures.
A need for clean water
IsraAID’s initial exploratory team assessed that clean water would be one of the major problems for area residents following the tremors.
“There will be a massive need for clean water,” IsraAID press officer Shachar May said.
Local residents from the Kahrsamanmaraş area had told her team they had difficulty finding bottled water, she said. Gas stations in the area were said to be sold out of drinking water. The earthquake has damaged much of the local utilities infrastructure, including plumbing. Some areas have tap water, but the local residents are scared to drink it because of the prevalence of dead bodies that could be contaminating the groundwater.
IsraAID brought water biofilters in anticipation of this challenge, but more would be needed, May said, adding that it also brought hygiene kits.
“Lack of water means lack of hygiene,” she said. Without water, people will be unable to wash themselves, increasing the chance of diseases spreading, she said.
“It’s usually [happening] in disasters that communicable diseases and other illnesses that we don’t think of flare up,” May said
However, she and IDF head nurse Demi Zukin said they did not expect and were not overly concerned about an outbreak of diseases, such as cholera.
“There isn’t too much concentration [of people],” Zukin said.
In a disaster zone, however, normal illnesses and diseases that are usually treated easily can become emergencies.
The whole spectrum of medical emergencies
Besides trauma patients, the IDF field hospital that has been established on a multination staging ground outside Kahrsamanmaraş expects medical emergencies “across the spectrum,” Zukin said. This includes pregnant women going into labor and people missing regular medication for treatable diseases, she said.
However, in a disaster zone normal illnesses and diseases that can normally be easily treated can become emergencies.
The IDF was also prepared for those suffering from hypothermia.
The weather has been as cold as minus-3 degrees at night. Prolonged exposure to such temperatures can be fatal.
The area was hit by the winter storm “Barbara,” which also struck the rest of the region. Rescuers have been racing against both time and the elements to reach freezing victims trapped beneath rubble. Many people were left homeless after the earthquakes and are suffering from the cold and wind.“Ad hoc and government shelters are now being set up,” May said.
IIsraAID is bringing in winter clothes from Ukraine to distribute to residents, she said.
“Ukraine has been one of our largest projects, so we have a massive logistics hub in Odesa,” she added
With the help of NGOs like IsraAID and international state aid like the IDF’s, perhaps Turkey may be able to avoid suffering the disaster after the disaster. If you would like to donate to IsraAID’s long-term emergency aid projects, go to https://secure.givelively.org/donate/israaid-us-global-humanitarian-assistance-inc/israaid-emergency-response-fund?utm_source=turkiyemedia
If you would like to donate to United Hatzalah’s ongoing emergency efforts in Turkey go to www.Israelrescue.org/earthquakeresponse