We got mail from a friend who moved home to Sri Lanka a couple years ago:

Thanks for all your messages of concern and support, my immediate family is safe and sound.

Went to Payagala (about 50 km south of Colombo along the coast of Sri Lanka) yesterday to check on some people Chrishani knows. They have escaped with their lives. Currently spending most of their time at a local temple as the houses are nothing more than shells with all their and other’s posessions washed out in the gardens and beyond…..We took some basic supplies (drinking water, medicines, clothes, dry rashions, torches etc) and hope to send more essentials over the weekend. They need chlorine tablets/powder to clean garden well, which is normally their source of safe drinking water.

Traffic beyond Kalutara is heavy going with some concern of a bridge collapsed. I anticipate it getting worse as more people make the trek to help. Not particularly safe after dark but there are armed police and army patrolling.

The near term aim should to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, which will abound in the camps, such as temples and churches, and can lead to a secondary massive loss of life…..

What I have seen is not bad compared to what others along the coast have suffered and described. I am working on setting up a fund for donations as my sense is that distribution of aid is not as good as it could be through existing channels. Perhaps, something along the lines of helping children and orphans, I hear 1/3 of those affected fall into this category

I don’t understand why our government can only send $35 million to help what is likely the worst natural disaster in our lifetimes. $1 billion was given to Florida during the hurricanes where 145 people died. Was that just because it was an election year and Florida was important and Indonesians, Sri Lankans and Indians don’t vote?

$35 million, that’s all we can do. It’s a shame that American citizens send our own money to help when our own government can barely lift a finger.