Wenatchee Woman Returns From Earthquake Relief Effort
A Wenatchee woman is sharing her experience as a volunteer for relief efforts in the earthquake ravaged regions of Turkey.
Jamie Smith volunteers for the non-profit organization Empact Northwest, which provides rescue and medical support for disasters worldwide.
"So probably back in 2018, is when I joined them," Smith said. "The main purpose is to respond to disasters and search and rescue. And that's kind of grown since then. And it does search and rescue as well as military and medical aid."
She got the call mid-February to perform supply missions on the ground for those hit hardest by the earthquake.
"So it ended up being a total of just four of us that were able to go," Smith said. "We were able to do some USAR (urban search and rescue training) and then we actually had to do mostly humanitarian work once we got there."
Much of the relief work was done in densely populated areas where thousands lost their homes.
"So the first town we were in, it was 11 degrees. It's not warm, you know, people are building fires, and between the rubble, to try to keep warm," Smith said. "There's a huge, humanitarian crisis that's really starting now. And people are trying to find home and find shelter."
Smith says the quake was such a large scale event that they had to cover a very large area.
"We ended up driving for hours and hours and just seeing crumbled city after crumbled city, and in the buildings that were still standing, were no longer safe. You could see the crack from the top to the bottom of these buildings." Smith said.
And while many of the displaced families offer thanks for all the support, Smith remembers their stories.
"Over and over and over again, it was. People just come and tell you their story. Everybody was very hospitable, very welcoming, very approachable, and you didn't talk to anybody that hadn't lost somebody" Smith said.
Smith is back from Turkey. She's taking a little break before returning to work as a flight nurse for the air ambulance service, Life Flight.
She says if she's called upon to volunteer again for disaster relief, she would probably do it again.
The 7 Worst Natural Disasters in the History of Washington State