FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (UMNS) -- For members of Trinity United Methodist Church here, the earthquake that rocked Turkey hit close to home. Champee and Bill Kemp, members of the congregation and residents of nearby Shalimar, Fla., learned during the early morning hours of Aug. 18 that the quake had claimed the lives of four of their grandchildren and had injured their daughter, Jan Kilic. A fifth grandchild, three-year-old Natalie, escaped with only scrapes and bruises.
The two boys, ages two and six, and two girls, ages nine months and five, were found in a collapsed building in Yalova, Turkey. The family was staying in a condominium in the resort town, which is located only about 10 miles from Izmit, the earthquake';s epicenter.
Numerous people in Northwest Turkey remain buried while the death toll continues to climb. Some officials estimate the number of deaths may surpass 40,000. Along with human suffering, damage to buildings, infrastructure and industry is extensive.
Babur Kilic, Jan';s husband who is a doctor, was at the family';s home in Atlanta when the quake occurred. According to the Rev. Paul Wolfe, senior minister at Trinity Church, he left immediately for Turkey to be reunited with his wife and their surviving child.
The quake also claimed the life of Babur's father, Nizam Kilic, and left his mother, Turkan Kilic, in critical condition after being buried beneath rubble of a five-story building for nearly 16 hours. She suffered an apparent stroke which has left her partially paralyzed and on a ventilator.
Babur Kilic's parents came to the United States nearly 40 years ago where his father became a well-known and widely-respected physician in Birmingham, Ala.
According to Wolfe, the Kemps are presently at their daughter's home in Atlanta and appear to be holding up well under the tragedy. "They are really concerned about getting the bodies back to Atlanta for burial as soon as possible, as well as getting their daughter either back to the United States or to Europe where she can be assured better medical care," Wolfe said. "This is quite an ordeal and we all are keeping the family in our thoughts and prayers."
Champee Kemp, a retired school teacher in Okaloosa County, Fla., told the Northwest Florida Daily News, "We just thank everybody for their prayers, because friends are very important."
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding to the Turkey earthquake through Action by Churches Together (ACT) and has sent an initial emergency grant of $10,000 to assist in beginning recovery efforts.
August 23, 1999
*Ellis is director of communications for the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Source: United Methodist News Service, official news agency of the United Methodist Church.