DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Dayton’s Turkish community is shocked and saddened by the devastation caused by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Islom Shakbandarov is the founder of the Turkish American Community Center in Dayton. He said he could not believe the scenes coming out of Turkey.

“When I woke up, it was a kind of surrealism again. Is this what’s happening? Nobody was expecting this. And at the moment I said, am I seeing a nightmare or what?” Shakhbandarov said.

Heartbreaking images of the destruction left behind. Shakhbandarov said this brought him back to the 1999 earthquake in Turkey.

“I remember seeing all those images of those very few that survived, kids, elders,” Shakhbandarov said.

More than 17,000 people died during that disaster, but he fears this earthquake could be just as bad.

“Those scenes were heartbreaking. And today, what I was seeing, it’s even more devastating because it’s much larger scale,” Shakhbandarov said.

Shakhbandarov has lived in Dayton for the last 15 years. He is one of more than a thousand Turkish families who call the Miami Valley home. They are a close-knit community, and watching this tragedy unfold has been difficult.

“All we can do at this point, at this moment, is pray for them and hope that more people could be saved,” Shakhbandarov said.

The Turkish Embassy has set up a fund to send money directly to rescue efforts in Turkey. Click here to see how to donate.