A TBM-led team in Turkey has set up the first of two water filter systems shipped from Texas to the earthquake-ravaged area this past week. The second will be online soon, and supplies to build eight more systems are being shipped from Istanbul, Turkey.

Mitch Chapman, TBM’s water specialist, and four Missouri Disaster Relief leaders arrived in Turkey Wednesday, Feb. 24, the specialist reported. They are housed almost three hours away from the quake epicenter and have experienced some aftershocks, but all is going well, he said.

“This is by far the worst disaster I have ever seen, and I went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” Chapman said. “This destruction far exceeds what I saw there.

“Overall, the need is great, but the United Nations, Turkish and other relief organizations have done a good job of handling the situation, removing bodies in a manner that honors people’s privacy. … The things that need addressing right now are clean water, hygiene, and trash removal.”

The team installed the first filter in a community center being used as a shelter where about 800 people can eat, take showers, and obtain medical care and medicine. It expects to install the second Texas-built filter Monday while awaiting shipment of the supplies from Istanbul.

Mickey Lenamon, TBM executive director, has asked people to pray for this “critical, life-saving ministry in a devastated area.” He specifically made the following three prayer requests:

  • For the Turkish people. “This situation has rocked them to the core. May they sense the comfort and presence of the Lord.”
  • For supplies. “The team has ordered pieces for eight more filters. Please pray the items arrive from Istanbul quickly and the team gets clearance to install them in the areas of most need.”
  • For safety. “One aftershock already has occurred while the team was on the ground. Pray for protection for the Turkish people, as well as the volunteer team.”

Chapman reported that the team’s work has been productive even though the plumbing fittings used in Turkey are different from those in Texas. “We ran around to hardware stores finding what we needed.”

Already, some Turkish people have been trained in how to set up the filtration system, and more are to be trained in the coming week, including some from Syria.

The damage in Turkey has given the TBM water specialist his first personal experience of earthquake damage. “The destruction is a little more isolated than I expected,” he said. “All of the buildings in a four-block area might be flattened, but then you go several blocks where the buildings did not collapse. Then, you come upon another devastated area. The frequency of the shockwaves affects the amount of damage, and frequency happens in waves. … It doesn’t get every building… You’ll have clusters of buildings that fell in the quake.”

The team is not explicitly sharing its faith, but they are working with in-country Christian groups. “Most of our contacts are known to be part of a Christian group, so others understand that our faith motivates our care for them.”

NOTE: The following photos show the process of the Texas-made filter arriving in a shipping crate at a tent city and community center and the system being constructed and completed by TBM's specialist and Turkish workers: