Bangor woman tellings of heart wrenching scenes after Turkey earthquaes
A BANGOR woman who lives in Turkey has been helping to distribute aid to traumatised victims of the fatal earthquakes.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two massive earthquakes which struck parts of the country and neighbouring Syria in the middle of the night on February 6 while people slept in their beds.
In the aftermath, scores of survivors have been sent to seek aid in other towns and cities, including Didum, where Gillian McClure has been living for five years, near the popular tourist resort of Altinkum.
The 51 year-old yoga teacher owns an apartment in a three story block, but unlike other quakes which she felt in the past, she did not know of the horror of the most recent ones until the next morning.
“The news was on in the cafes and restaurants and we all heard about it then,” she said.
“It’s far away from here in Didum and a lot of them are being sent here and all over different areas; I think it’s about an 18 hour coach drive.
“I saw on social media about a friend I’ve known for 25 years, Hussein, who runs a community centre for women who need a safe house or for teenagers who have been put out, so he has that, and took in people who were arriving on coaches.
“I think there are already 2000 or so who have been brought here to Didum and I have been going to the community centre where they have set out tables for people to bring clothes and other items.
“I have been helping to distribute clothes because many have arrived in their pyjamas because they had been in bed when it happened,” she said.
“They are placing some in what are almost campsites, with tents and communal bathrooms.”
Gillian, a former Bangor Girls’ High pupil, said that sometimes in the aftermath of other earthquakes she has felt the tremors herself.
“I was here in 1991 when there was the big quake in Izmit and we felt the aftershocks of that one.”
That quake killed 17,000 people, paling in comparison to the gravity of this latest quake which has robbed so many more lives and others of everything they owned or held dear.
“I was speaking to a man who has lost all 20 members of his family – can you imagine, losing all your family, your grandparents and parents and everyone else,” she said.
Gillian is therefore taking whatever steps she can to help the stricken people who have the nightmare of their ordeals etched across their faces.
“I have been going down every other day and helping my friend Samantha down at the hotel where people were taken to as well.
“Many of the people have been traumatised because you just see the dazed looks on their faces,” she said.
Despite the occurrences of earthquakes in Turkey Gillian doesn’t live in fear.
“It’s the strangest feeling, you know, the feeling of the house swaying and of course the higher you live the more you feel it.
“They have started doing earthquake alarm training in schools and you get sent messages to your mobile phones and there is an earthquake alarm in the town now, which almost sounds like a war alarm,” she said.
And while her parents worry, she remains content.
“I’m a firm believer that when it’s your time to go, it’s your time. My dad was worried and asking me if it was near where I live and of course I could avoid all these places but then I could walk out the door and get hit by a bus.”
It is her great fondness for her adopted home that keeps her firmly rooted there.
“I’ve been living here for five years now after I’d been coming back and forth for about 25 years on holiday. Most people assume it was a man but I fell in love with but it was the country and the people; they are so friendly,” she said.
Now Gillian is hoping the people of Northern Ireland will live up to their global reputation as the most generous nation per head and give what they can to help Turkey’s massive relief effort.