Water Mission to deploy to Turkey, Syria to aid earthquake recovery efforts

Water Mission, a non-profit based out of North Charleston, will be deploying waves of team members to help with recovery efforts.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 4:56 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 7:43 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Water Mission, a non-profit based out of North Charleston, will be deploying waves of team members to help recovery efforts following the earthquake impacting Turkey and Syria.

Water Mission said their first team will be deploying Wednesday to the impacted areas. Once they get there, they will be looking at what equipment needs to be brought in for another team that will head there in a couple of weeks.

“We do stockpile water systems, water treatment systems, here in Charleston, as well as several other locations around the world,” CEO and President George Greene said. “We’re prepared to air freight as we see those needs develop and making sure there are appropriate solutions and also as we balance what we have the ability to do from resources that come in, as well.”

Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake has killed several thousand people so far in Turkey and Syria.

Water Mission volunteers could be seen staging equipment Tuesday morning, such as water treatment systems at their warehouse, so they can be ready to go if they’re needed.

“When we land in any disaster, Turkey is no exception, we expect things are going to be very chaotic,” Disaster Response Team Lead Josh Burns said. “There’s going to be a lot of needs in a lot of places. I’ll likely be deploying to Turkey in the next two to three weeks, which is, essentially, our second team that would deploy.”

Burns said compared to their recent deployment to Ukraine, they can go directly into the affected areas versus going into the border regions.

“Ukraine is very different because it’s still an active war zone,” Burns said. “We’re having to find ways to monitor systems, continue to install systems, even though it’s not necessarily safe. Whereas in Turkey, we’re going to go in and do an assessment. We’re going to be able to respond very quickly to the needs that we find.”

He also said the quake impacted areas several hundred miles away from the epicenter. They are expecting this deployment to become a long-term endeavor based on the initial reports.

“Lives hang in the balance as you think about people being impacted, losing their homes – food supply, shelter, water disruptions. These are all basic, basic needs,” Greene said.

Burns said his faith and wanting to provide clean water to people in need is what keeps him going to these disaster zones.

“Whenever I hear about a disaster, each time my heart breaks more because I’ve been connected to people who say they’ve lost their homes, or they’ve lost family members,” Burns said. “It really changes you emphasize with people and want to help more.”

Greene said it’s too early to know how much money they will need to help Turkey and Syria recover but early estimations suggest it will be in the millions of dollars.

He added based on the initial reports coming out of the region, the organization is expecting to be helping relief efforts for the months, and possibly years, to come.