TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A devastating earthquake has left thousands of people dead and thousands of buildings destroyed in Turkey and Syria, and the impact is being felt around the world, including here in Tampa, where there is a large Turkish population.
Onur and Sevinc Koksal, owners of Onur Food Market on Fletcher Avenue are in shock.
“We are so sad. Everybody, it’s 18 million people, they are my family actually,” Onur Koksal said.
The couple says their family and friends have been spared from the impacts, but it’s still hard to watch so many people suffer.
“This is the worst earthquake I’ve seen in my life,” said Sevinc Koksal.
“I mean, this is huge. I remember in 1999 I was actually in Turkey and that was a huge earthquake. It was 7.4 magnitude, and this was 7.9 and 7.5 right after,” said Oytun Tutuncu, who is also part of the local Turkish-American community.
Members of the community are already planning their response. Tutuncu plans to organize efforts to help Turkey in the coming days.
“I’ve been in the U.S. for 20 years now and it’s part of our heart. Just as much as the United States is our home, Turkey is still a part of us as well. So we would like to be able to give back,” said Tutuncu.
“It is very helpless feeling. Of course, we would like to help, and a lot of people in Turkey they want to help, but they can’t reach there, because the roads are affected from the earthquake,” said Sevinc.