Filipino community in Houston waiting to hear from loved ones after devastating typhoon

With the death toll rising, fear is setting in for those with loved ones caught in the path of Typhoon Haiyan (A Philippine flag flutters amidst the devastation brought about by powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013.)
November 9, 2013 9:09:05 PM PST
The Filipino community in Houston is watching for news out of the Philippines in the wake of a devastating typhoon. Many of them still have family in the country, and at least one person we spoke to said she is already making plans to go find her loved ones.

It's worse than they feared. Officials in the Philippines say the death toll from Typhoon Haiyan could reach as high as 10,000 people -- and that's for one city.

The regional police chief reportedly said he was told there were about 10,000 deaths in the central Philippine city of Tacloban. He said most died by drowning, and some deaths were from collapsed buildings.

Tacloban is home to about 200,000 people. About 300 to 400 bodies have already been recovered in the wake of the storm. Officials say there is still a lot beneath the debris and still a lot of searching to do.

It's difficult to see some of the videos coming out of the Philippines, especially for those in Houston who have family members there. Some of them are still missing and feared dead.

Haiyan's fury was powerful. The storm surge was as high as trees, and 150mph winds flattened entire villages.

"Of course, I'm crying because my home place has been affected," Lynza Gonzales said.

Gonzales has been watching it all from a world away -- images of people fighting for their lives, dramatic rescues, death and destruction in her homeland. And with the death toll rising, the fear is setting in.

"I'm hoping that they are still alive," she said. "I have been calling, but nobody will answer."

Gonzales said she hasn't been able to contact her two sisters and four brothers since Haiyan hit. All of them live in the direct path of storm.

"I need to go home," Gonzales said. "I need to know what happened to them."

For now, she's found comfort among strangers who gathered Saturday night to raise money for another natural disaster that hit the Philippines just months ago -- a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

"I can't help it but cry," a volunteer said. "The best thing we can do being here in the United States is to help them by doing this kind of affair."

Money is being raised for the earthquake victims, and another fundraiser is already being planned to help the survivors of Haiyan.

Efforts are underway with in the Houston Filipino community to gather supplies -- food, water, medicine and other necessities. It's really all they can do right now.

"I don't have anything to do," Gonzales said. "Just to pray, and pray to the Lord that they will be safe."

Find Foti on Facebook at ReporterFotiKallergis or on Twitter at @FotiKallergis

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