Alasdair Gordon-Gibson has been in Sri Lanka for the past 11 months as head of the International Federation of the island nation's Red Cross (IFRC) mission.
He was in the capital, Colombo, when catastrophe struck.
As head of mission, Alasdair is coordinating post-tsunami relief efforts on the ground, both within the Red Cross, and with other agencies as they arrive. Activities include search and rescue missions, medical care, water purification, and resupplying basic necessities.
Gordon-Gibson described the enormous devastation for The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, and estimated that as many as 1 million Sri Lankans have been or will be affected.
Disease prevention is very much in the forefront of Gordon-Gibson's mind, with the World Health Organization estimating that the death toll from disease could equal the death toll from the actual storm. "It's not our job to put scare stories out; it's not that situation yet," he says. But the potential is very much there.
Gordon-Gibson told Smith Wednesday, "The scale of this disaster is still really waiting to unfold. The numbers are changing daily. So, our concerns are identifying correctly the affected numbers, the numbers of missing, the numbers of displaced and the numbers of dead, and being able to mobilize teams to support those people who are in need of support who have survived and who need attention as quickly and as effectively as possible. That's the main thing. We can't lose too much more time."
"Several communities are still underwater. They haven't been properly assessed or surveyed," he added.
"The road south of Colombo and (the roads in) the worst affected areas on the south coast are very, very slow," Gordon-Gibson observed. "So what we need is to get the roads opened. The logistics working and the deployment of supplies arriving at the airport has started."
IF YOU WANT TO SEND DONATIONS TO ASSIST ANY OF THE AFFECTED NATIONS, CONTACT ANY OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS:
AMERICAN JEWISH WORLD SERVICE
AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE
AMERICAN RED CROSS
CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES
DIRECT RELIEF INTERNATIONAL
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS
SAVE THE CHILDREN
ISLAMIC RELIEF USA
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