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Waiting for disaster


"Earthquakes are a fact of life here."

—Gulden Yildirim

On Saturday three

tremors centered in the Sea of Marmara -- ranging from

3.2 till 4.8 on the Richter scale -- were felt on a 200-

kilometer radius from Balikesir to Istanbul.

Seismic experts say that these rumblings are not

precedents of the major quake expected. Professor Ahmet

Mete Isikara predicts the upcoming big one could

approach at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour, directly

affecting a 90 kilometer radius, while creating 8 to 10

kilometer-deep rifts and fissures in the earth. This

would reduce an approximate 75% of Istanbul to ruins.

Since Turkey's '99 killer quakes which claimed some

18,000 lives, many elementary school-aged children

across the country continue to wake up in tears and

screams at night. Ongoing therapy treatments, visits to

psychiatrists, school prep programs, reassurance from

parents and relatives help alleviate sub-conscious

worries and release tension build-ups, but children are

still terrified by fears of tremors hitting their

earthquake-prone land -- and separating them from all

that they have known and loved.

Regular TV programs feature classes on calm, objective

ways in which people can react to traumatic situations.

These on-going features train families and individuals

to formulate safe and concise evacuation plans, helping

them prepare for any future eventualities. Schools

provide children the benefit of earthquake drills, first

aid classes, and age-respective hand-in-hand training

with firemen and rescue workers.

Within hours after the first of the 1999 quakes, faith-

based disaster response groups launched a relief effort

that efficiently funneled compassion and financial

support from the U.S. and many other countries. Church

World Service, Action by Churches Together (ACT), and

many denominational groups worked with local partners in

Turkey to offer shelter, food, water, and medical


They also offered spiritual care, with many local

partners continuing to do so.

Some youngsters plan to make 'helping others' their

career -- when they grow up.

"Earthquakes are a fact of life here," says 22-year-old

Gulden Yildirim. "Other countries suffer the effects of

floods, fires and diverse natural disasters -- we have

earthquakes, and I'm just thankful they don't happen


Reactions vary when the earthquake topic is brought up.

Most folks tend to stay in their hometown or province,

even if they are on a fault line.

"Fate will catch up with you wherever you are," Ali Tan

-- an English student --remarked, "and if your time is

not up, God will protect you through whatever comes your

way. While the thought of emigrating to a place of

refuge in order to escape earthquakes might seem a sound

investment to some, unplanned hardships of a different

kind, such as illness or financial difficulties, might

come your way -- and who is to say which is better? Our

future rests in safe hands."

Most of the country's youth reflect the same viewpoint

-- a traditional mixture of nationalistic pride, strong

family ties, and deep-seated beliefs. "After all, there

is a reason why one is born where they are. It is up to

each one of us to find out not only what that particular

reason is, but what we can do to make our families, our

nation and God proud of us in fulfilling it." concluded


Others prefer to endorse practical points -- and while

they continue praying for earthquakes not to happen,

they also prepare by having emergency bags packed with

essential necessities and valuable, or favorite,

irreplaceable possessions. Some, as the following young

lady, give way to wishful thinking: "My dream is to have

a week's advance notice. Then I would pack all our

belongings in a safe place, and take my sister, father,

mother, and fiancee to Turkey's interior -- preferably

central Anatolia, which is the most tremor-proof region."

Related Topics:

Changes could reduce OK 'quakes

CA overdue for major 'quake

Oregon ill-prepared for a 'big one'

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