In the wake of the flash floods in the northeastern province of Giresun in the Black Sea region that killed at least seven people, scientists have suggested that climate change or nature are not solely responsible for such disasters, but the human factor must also be taken into account.
Turkey often suffers from devastating natural disasters like the one that hit Giresun, however scientists argue manmade mistakes, such as poorly built structures and buildings, only amplify the impact of the catastrophes.
“People erect buildings with similar structures both on the stream beds and high up in the mountains. You cannot have the same building in Istanbul’s Makça neighborhood and Trabzon’s Maçka district: If there are no structural differences between those two buildings, then the disaster is inevitable. We have not yet learned how to be erecting buildings that should be compatible with a given region’s geographical conditions and its climate,” Professor Mikdat Kadıoğlu, a meteorological engineer and disaster management expert, told daily Hürriyet.
Necessary precautions are ignored and flood-resistant building are not developed anymore, according to the expert.
He pointed out that there are traditional ways of building a home. “For instance, in the Çarşamba district of the Black Sea province of Samsun, people place their homes on pillars so that flash floods cannot damage their houses.”
Kadıoğlu added that people tend to put the blame for natural disasters on climate change, but human errors must be factored in.
“That is correct, climate is changing. But what has not changed is our mentality,” he said.
He calls on authorities to launch a program which encourages people to return to rural areas from ill-planned cities.
Kadıoğlu also said the public lacks “meteorological literacy.” People need to be educated about how the flash floods occur and how to protect themselves against disasters, he noted.
Professor Orhan Şen, from Istanbul Technical University, shares Kadıoğlu’s views.
“Torrential rains may be due to climate change, but flash floods turning into disaster are manmade,” he said, adding that similar catastrophes will inevitably happen in other parts of the country.
Since it is not possible to stop the rain, people should not be allowed to build their homes on stream beds to prevent such disasters, Şen added.
Hurriyet Daily News