Hatay residents start to return quake-hit city

Hatay residents start to return quake-hit city

Rıza Özel - HATAY
Hatay residents start to return quake-hit city

Some of the citizens in the quake-stricken southern province of Hatay who had to leave the city have started to return one by one.

Mehmet Dönmez, a barber whose workplace was destroyed in the devastating quakes, is one of the people who have returned to their hometown.

He continues to cut people’s hair in a chair he placed in front of the rubble in an alley in Kurtuluş, one of the busiest streets of the city.

He stated that after the earthquakes he went to the southern province of Antalya and stayed in a hotel in the Manavgat district for a month.

As the tourism season was about to start there, he came back and started staying in a tent with his friends.

“I had regular customers. They still call me, and I go to cut their hair. For now, my workplace consists of the suitcase I carry under my arm. I want to have a barber shop again as soon as possible, even if it is in a container,” he said.

Nadir Aygün, a motor mechanic with a shop on Kurtuluş Street, left his wife and two daughters in the central Anatolian province of Karaman where they took refuge after the earthquakes, and returned to Hatay.

Aygün expresses his belief that “people will slowly rise up from the ruins” in Hatay.

“I was born and raised here. There is no way I can break away from Hatay,” he said, stating that he has his own business and regular customers here which he cannot abandon.

Baker Serkan Ağzı, recently reopened his bakery where he makes the famous “Hatay simidi,” a local delicacy. Brothers Adnan and Ethem İçer, whose two separate bakeries were destroyed, started making bagels in this moderately damaged bakery.

“Thanks to the generous people sending financial aid, we make bagels and deliver them to quake survivors in need. I personally distribute the bagels in tent cities. We will also make and distribute pita bread during Ramadan,” Ağzı said.

Mehmet İhsan Arıcı, a kebab place owner whose restaurant in the center of Antakya district was destroyed, went with his family of 10 to a relative’s house in the northwestern province of Kocaeli after the earthquakes and returned two weeks later.

Explaining that they managed to save their stoves and started selling kebabs on a mobile stall, Arıcı said that they offer Hatay’s famous kebab to those who come to volunteer.

“We also applied for a container. Both as a place to stay and as a workplace. I’m hopeful that we will get back on our feet,” he said.

Muhittin Aktaş, the owner of a tea shop, also returned to Antakya and opened his tea shop in a hut next to the destroyed Habibi Neccar Mosque.

Aktaş said that he believes in Hatay’s recovery, and they will heal their wounds by working hard.

Turkey, Türkiye,