BALTIMORE -- Meet Tom Smith, a Maryland native and former U.S. Air Force medic.
He's got all boots on the ground following the earthquakes that shook and destroyed parts of Turkey and Syria in early February.
Smith has been helping with rescue efforts in Turkey as part of Project Hope's emergency response team.
"The biggest challenge at the individual level is not giving into hopelessness," Smith said.
Nearly 45,000 people in Turkey and Syria were killed by the earthquakes.
Smith compared the sprawling devastation in Turkey to an apocalypse.
"You go to towns where 80% of the buildings are not just damaged but pancaked. and you'd go row after row, and these were cities that were 50k, 70k and you'd just drive down the road—it's the apocalypse," he said.
Recovery efforts will take years. Millions of people who survived the earthquakes have lost everything, from family and homes to jobs.
Now, many of them are living in shelter camps.
"There is a massive need for the basics: running water, clean place to go to the bathroom," Smith said. "And the next thing is: what does that rebuild look like? And without a doubt all the nurses and doctors doing great work there—as well as massive mental health support."
Project Hope has been providing mental health resources, generators, sleeping bags. Thermal blankets, hygiene kits and more.
The organization is looking for support to continue its mission.
"Anything really makes a difference to help these folks in the long run," Smith said.
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