Turks, Syrians, and Texans unite for relief effort after earthquake

Briana Conner Image
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Turks, Syrians, and Texans unite for relief effort after earthquake
Turkey-Syria earthquake relief efforts are being organized in Houston as the U.S. is pledging $85 million in aid to the region.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The United States government will send millions of dollars and other resources for humanitarian relief in Turkey and Syria. The need and the number of dead grows with each day.

MORE: How to assist earthquake victims in Turkey, Syria

Earthquake survivors in the Turkish city of Antakya said on Wednesday they need more support to protect their children in the aftermath of the disaster.

The Consulate General of Turkey on Westheimer is accepting donations all weekend long to help with recovery. They're hoping they can count on the community to be generous. People in Houston with friends and family in the impact zone said they've been told everything is gone.

Leyla Watt grew up in Turkey but now lives in Sugar Land. Her friends and family in the region are OK, but she's being told the devastation is far more disastrous up close than what's being shown on TV.

"They told me clearly, multiple times, that it is worse than what we see," Watt said.

It's hard to comprehend devastation on the level, but Watt said the images remind her of what she saw while living near Istanbul when a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit in 1999.

"When I was watching, it was like I was there. I was like, 'Yes, I understand.' I just wanted to be there," she said.

Now living near Houston, Watt said she's been anxiously waiting on word of help for her home country.

It came Friday from U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Surrounded by leaders in Houston's Syrian-American and Turkish-American communities, the congresswoman announced the U.S. will send $85 million for food, medicine, and shelter.

SEE MORE: Syria-Turkey earthquake death count climbs past 21K as rescues dwindle

Over 170,000 pounds of specialized tools and equipment are also headed to the region, along with $3 million in medical supplies from the National Association of Christian Churches.

"My commitment here is to make sure that we have ongoing support and that we are getting support out of Houston, Texas. With that in mind, you can understand we are going to try and help as much as we can," Jackson Lee said.

"It is an opportunity that we can show our love, care, human love to each other. It doesn't matter where we are from. This is an opportunity to me," Watt added.

Serhad Varli, the Turkish consulate general in Houston, agreed.

"They are all galvanized and mobilized. They act in unity to provide all the necessary help," he said.

Watt believes this unity will allow her home to rise from the rubble, rebuilding the country and their faith.

"God says, 'I am in it. I'm with you. Don't lose hope.' Everybody, I believe, everybody can help this in different measures."

RELATED: Newborn, toddler pulled from Syrian earthquake rubble

A toddler was pulled alive from the earthquake wreckage of a collapsed building in Jinderis, Syria.

For updates on this story, follow Briana Conner on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.