Sığacık, Seferihisar, İzmir … we were all in great pain together.
Can we say “history keeps repeating itself” if lessons are already learned from past experiences?
The grandfather, who lost his grandson but survived an earthquake in the eastern province of Erzincan, could not stay in the city, and the family was scattered across the country. Grandfather settled in Izmir, became a contractor and erected an apartment building in the name of his grandson who lost it in the earthquake. History keeps repeating itself. On the ground floor, large windows and ample space for a cafe are required. Nobody disturbed the building’s static system. What is the importance of horizontal and vertical support systems? Would a huge building collapse if one or two were sacrificed?
After the 1999 earthquake, “structural fatigue” began to be discussed, as it is anywhere else in the country. A report showed that there were some serious structural deficiencies in the building. Most of the residents of the apartments in the building were not landowners, but renters. The owners of the apartments in the bright cafe met a large hall lit by large glass windows on the ground floor. They said it would be “costly” and “we could not handle” investing a lot “in improving the building’s structural strength. The apartment management resigned, saying, “I cannot take this responsibility if the building collapses…” The municipality also said that there is serious “structural fatigue” and that the building needs reinforcement.
so what? nothing. Why is it? Why would it cost you money? It is covered outside the building with insulating foam and paint, there are no cracks, and no sign of rotting has appeared anymore. So the residents of the building dealt with the situation with make-up …
But one day an earthquake struck. The epicenter was off the coast of Sverihisar in the sea near the island of Samos. Damages were caused in Sferihisar. There was a tsunami in Sığacık, the first such event recorded in modern times in Turkey. There was damage in some buildings but with the exception of a woman who lost her life in the tsunami, the losses were rather limited. But the situation in Izmir was very tragic.
Was the strength of the earthquake 6.6 or 7 on the Richter scale? who cares? An academic commented that the magnitude 6.6 earthquake is very similar to the area hit by two atomic bombs, while the magnitude 7 earthquake is very similar to 40 atomic bombs exploded there. But was it the size of the earthquake that killed so many people?
Someone said there were two atomic bombs, forty other atomic bombs, but not the size of the earthquake, but the buildings that were destroyed and the citizens we lost are important to us. Our losses have already reached 83, hope is not lost, but we do not even know how many people are living under the rubble. Our fear is that our losses will increase even more.
This issue should not be political stuff. It is not time to ask what happened to the earthquake taxes, nor is it the day to ask, “What have you done before against earthquakes over the past decades?” We are all infected. This is a national disaster, a great trauma that requires all of us to be united.
This wound, of course, will gradually resolve. Izmir and all the earthquake-struck settlements will soon leave behind this big shock and walk into happy days. However, if no measures are taken, and cities, towns and villages are not prepared according to the reality of earthquakes, whether in terms of building stocks, gathering areas, infrastructure, etc., unfortunately, the pain of the earthquake will continue to be our fate.
Experts warn of an earthquake in Istanbul. God forbid. However, Turkey is an earthquake-prone country and since 1999 all experts warn that an earthquake in Istanbul may affect the country’s largest city in “30 years of time.” So what actions were taken? How are the gathering places? What about the emergency response stations that were supposed to have been set up? Does anyone know where they are? Will the buildings be strengthened?
You know how we said, “Earthquakes don’t kill, bad buildings kill?” All surrounding buildings were tall, and buildings faltering from structural exhaustion became the graves of the residents. If we don’t learn from our experiences, can we say that earthquakes are not really our fate?
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