Turkish natives in the Triangle rushing relief supplies to earthquake zone

Joel Brown Image
Friday, February 10, 2023
Turkish natives in the Triangle rushing relief supplies to quake zone
Turkish residents in the Triangle are rallying to collect relief supplies for their earthquake-ravaged homeland.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- With the survival window closing fast on victims still trapped in the rubble from the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the Turkey-Syria border, the desperation is palpable from the quake zone back here to the Triangle.

"Basically there are a lot of victims that need a place to sleep," Kevin Demir said, as he pulled out one of the more than 1,000 sleeping bags he's collected for quake victims in Turkey.

Demir arrived in Raleigh at 15 years old with new American parents. But he's Turkish-born, growing up in Istanbul. And now, he's frantically worried about the friends and family back in his homeland devastated by the earthquake.

He's flying there Friday with at least seven suitcases packed with relief supplies: sleeping bags, first aid kits, and hand warmers.

"It's heartbreaking. And I want to be there. I want to be able to help somebody," he said. "I can't hold it together here. So I'm gonna go there and just try to do whatever I can to help."

RELATED: Erdoan slammed over poor quake infrastructure preparation, relief efforts

There were even more relief supplies inside Cary's Bosphorus Restaurant. Demir has been working with the popular Turkish eatery to gather more supplies. The boxes are filling up fast.

Bosphorus' owners, Dr. Binnur Ozkar and her sons aren't just from Turkey, their hometown of Marash was hit the hardest.

"The epicenter of the earthquake is our hometown, which turned into rubble right now," said Alperen Bulbol. "So, we're trying to help as much as we can from over here."

The family shared pictures of the loved ones that they know they've lost so far. Three family members have perished. Two remain stuck in the rubble.

"My cousin, my friend, my doctor friend passed away. My worker passed away," said Ozkar.

The relief supplies they're gathering will arrive this week. But they're telling anyone who'll listen -- the best way to help Turkey is money.

"Everybody's wonderful. Everybody wants to help. And the best way to help right now is please donate to Bridge to Turkey Fund," said Feyzan Bayzal, while volunteering in the effort at Bosphorus.

Demir will drive to Washington D.C. on Friday to drop off some of the donated supplies at the Turkish Embassy. He then heads to Dulles Airport with the rest of the donated supplies to take them to Turkey.