FOX 2 (WJBK) - The local impact of this week's destructive Turkey and Syria earthquake has been felt across southeastern Michigan.
Mehmet Yaya is an Eastern Michigan University professor who was raised in Turkey..
"There are thousands of people who lost their lives and many more survivors are going to feel the pain of this," Yaya said.
He said his heart breaks when he sees video of the devastation in his homeland which has left 17,000 dead and countless others missing.
"This earthquake impacted 10 cities in the south, southern part of Türkiye and each of those cities is the size of Detroit, 13 million people are being impacted by the earthquake," said Yaya.
The professor is joining forces with several other EMU faculty members who have Turkish roots, to organize a fundraiser through the Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan.
"We have recently launched a rescue and relief campaign to help support the search and rescue," he said.
The organizers are asking Michiganders to reach out and provide monetary support.
"We collect all these donations, and the entire amount that we raise during his campaign, will be donated to the search and rescue, and humanitarian efforts," he added.
Starting Friday the Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan in Wixom will also start collecting clothing and other items to send to Turkey.
"I think current needs are the pants, the trousers, winter jackets, winter boots," Yaya said.
The professor knows first-hand the magnitude of devastation an earthquake can leave behind after surviving one more than 20 years ago, in Turkey.
"In 1999 there was a similar magnitude earthquake and I was there," he said.
This economics professor also knows the rebuild after an earthquake is costly, and takes years to accomplish that’s why he hopes you will support this mission.
"Every bit helps but it takes a tall task to rebuild in my opinion, and it won’t happen quickly," he said.
GO HERE for the Turkish-American Cultural Association of America to donate.
GO HERE to donate money through PayPal to the Turkish-American Cultural Association of America.
Personnel and civilians conduct search and rescue operations in Idlib, Syria after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hits Turkiye's Kahramanmaras, on February 07, 2023. (Photo by Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)