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Locals with ties to Turkey react to devastating earthquake

Posted at 6:43 PM, Feb 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-06 19:43:35-05

KINGSVILLE, Texas — Fulden Sara Wissinger, now an associate professor at Texas A&M University Kingsville, remembers her childhood in Turkey. She grew up in Istanbul and said she experienced many earthquakes growing up.

"The weather gets really hot and dogs would start howling." she described. "We knew, if we can get out it's great. If you cannot, just get under the bed or find something to cover you."

However, she never felt one as strong as the recent disaster in Turkey and Syria. Rescuers there had to search for survivors in frigid cold temperatures the night after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused more than 3,400 deaths by Monday, knocking down thousands of buildings across the region. Wissinger's parents live in Turkey, but they are far from the affected areas.

"I talked to them and of course they're upset but they're okay. And I have other friends in other areas and I talked to them too, they're shocked but they are doing okay." she said.

Dr. Nuri Yilmazer, another professor at Texas A&M University Kingsville, also has family in Turkey. He said he found out about the disaster after he received an alarming message Sunday night.

"I got a text message from my niece saying that, "I love you uncle. We had very strong earthquake and we are very scared." So, I couldn't understand, so I was in shock. After I got the message from my niece I turned on the TV and I've been watching the news the whole night." he said.

Doctor Yilmazer's parents also live in Turkey. He said he's thankful his parents and niece are safe at this time, but his heart is heavy for those who lost someone and those in need.

"There are lots of kids and they need food, the babies, pregnant ladies. Seeing them on TV is very heart breaking." he added.

The university staff members said, despite the circumstances they've seen how humanity steps up during a time of need and shows their support.

The U.S. is pledging to help Turkey and Syria.

A message to KRIS 6 News from the Regional Communications Director of the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region said:

At this time, the American Red Cross has not received blood product requests for Turkey or Syria – and therefore are not collecting blood in the U.S. to go to those affected by the devastating earthquakes. The American Red Cross will ship blood products outside of the U.S. (adhering to appropriate regulatory guidelines), following a specific request from government or an affected Red Cross society. The American Red Cross stands by to offer support.