Sakarya’s quake victims oppose to leaving houses
Varol family is one of the opponents, who refuse to leave their houses despite they are left without gas, electricty and water in their apartment. DHA photoThe northwestern province of Sakarya’s recent implementation to cut off electricity, water, natural gas and phone services to 1,301 buildings moderately damaged in the Aug. 17, 1999 earthquake has raised concerns.
“The damaged buildings should go under maintenance and repairs. However, the residents should resettle to other places with public funding,” president of the Istanbul branch of the Chamber of Urban Planners Tayfun Kahraman told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Kahraman said the Chamber of Urban Planners does not approve the recent implementations of Sakarya governorship and said the residents should be located to places not far away from their current houses.
The Sakarya Governor’s Office and the Sakarya Metropolitan Municipality launched the initiative to identify buildings that were damaged in the 1999 quake following the deadly Van quake Oct. 23.
While the Sakarya governorship officials did not answer the Daily News’ questions, Sakarya Metropolitan Municipality’s press consultant Yekta Şirin said they had been informing the public regarding the decision since 2009, but their calls went unnoticed.
“Although it is not our responsibility to relocate them to other homes, we are showing them areas where they can move. They can rent houses from the town of Yenikent,” Şirin said. He denied claims that people were left unaware about the implementations such as cutting natural gas and electricity services.
Help for victims
While the cutting off of services in damaged buildings still continues, an official from the water and sewage administration in Sakarya said so far 216 houses were cut off from services. “We will analyze 5,000 buildings and we will demolish those that do not fit the regulations,” Sakarya Governor Mustafa Büyük announced Dec. 6, according to daily Radikal.
Büyük also said they will provide financial aid to residents who were in need.
Şirin said they already provided financial help to residents, yet they did not move out. “There are people who confess they took the government’s grant in 1999, but did not do anything yet. However, if there are people whose financial situation is difficult we will not leave them on the streets.”
Still, some media outlets report that some residents in the area insist on staying in their houses. “We want our houses to be analyzed again,” resident Cihan Varol said. “We already fixed our house, but the municipality did not accept it.” The 1999 7.6-magnitude earthquake devastated Turkey’s most industrialized region and killed approximately 20,000 people.