Philippines flooding hits close to home

September 29, 2009 8:12:39 AM PDT
The death toll Monday night in the Philippines is at least 240 people, the result of widespread flooding over the past few days. In one 12-hour period over the weekend, the storm dumped more than a month's worth of rain. It's something a number of Houstonians are watching closely. It's being described as the worst flooding to hit the Philippines in 40 years. Janella del Mundo Gee describes what it's been like waiting for information on loved ones and where she has gone to get it.

The pictures tell so much of this story and when del Mundo Gee first saw snapshots from her uncle she grew very worried.

"I was pretty concerned about my family members that we couldn't get in touch with right away," said del Mundo Gee.

The deadly tropical storm has triggered some of the worst flooding in more than four decades. Del Mundo Gee has more than 30 relatives in the flooded region.

"They are not sure if there are any more bodies because there are some villages that haven't been found yet because they've been blocked by cars and the rescue workers haven't been able to get there," del Mundo Gee said.

Almost 8,000 people have been rescued, including her cousins and their eight-year-old son from the second story of their home.

"They used sheets to climb out of the window onto the rescue boat," said del Mundo Gee.

She says it took some time to make sure all of her loved ones were accounted for.

"Everyone is communicating by Facebook, by email. It's amazing what technology we have now," said del Mundo Gee.

Most of her family has moved to higher ground. Her grandfather owns a three story apartment complex. But she realizes while her family has lost many of their belongings, they are fortunate it has not been worse.

"Right now we see all the good efforts going around with people giving each other food, helping each other out. I think in a few days we will see emotionally what turmoil has affected them," said del Mundo Gee.

While many Filipinos are trying to grasp the toll the storm has taken, there is more reason to worry as forecasters say another storm is brewing east of the island nation and could hit as early as Friday.

The United Nations has dispatched a disaster response official to the Philippines. UNICEF is also sending aid to the region, and will send more if it's needed.

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