It was some years ago now, in 2012 after the outbreak of war in Syria, that a friend and I were in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa, Turkey. Now, the earthquake damage there and in the neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, has left more than 45,000 dead and thousands of buildings destroyed.

Before my friend and I traveled to Turkey, I had talked with Nancy Huntington of West Tisbury and Lexington. I knew that her Armenian father had grown up in Gaziantep. Her family had fled Turkey during the Armenian genocide of World War I. She asked us to find her family’s house there and take pictures of it. It was low-built and surrounding a courtyard and had become a guest house, we found.

After they had been warned in 1914 that all Armenians were about to be forcibly expelled, Mrs. Huntington’s family, pistachio growers, had packed up their prized possessions and left their home. After a brief stay in Beirut, Lebanon, and then in Egypt, her 19-year old father and his brother had come to the United States and settled in Boston.

Because her father’s childhood house was sturdily built long ago, it may have withstood the earthquake, she hopes. Mrs. Huntington remembers her father’s tales of times of earthquake tremors in his boyhood. At such times, the family would go into the courtyard to sleep away from the building’s walls.

I have been recalling, too, being in Sanliurfa on that visit to Turkey. At one point, we traveled to the Syrian border where refugees were staying in tents. There was a furious thunderstorm while we were there, with stronger thunder and lightning than any I had ever experienced. I was talking with refugees in an old barn that shook so hard in the wind and the heavy rain that one wondered if it might fall.

Thunderstorms and earthquakes, of course, have nothing in common. That storm, however, made me wonder about the ferocity of nature in the area. A decade before that, I had been in Aleppo, Syria — also struck by the recent earthquake. There, at its Citadel built on the outskirts of the city to keep Crusaders out, I had been asked by three young women to take their picture. Then they invited me to visit the new university dormitory where they lived, and of which they were extremely proud. I wonder, since there is now a question as to the solidity of recently-built structures, if that dormitory still stands.

But I hope above all that those former students, and my guides in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa are among the survivors of the region’s terrible recent natural catastrophes.