Taiwanese community in Houston monitors events after earthquake

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Taiwanese community monitors events after earthquake, Deborah Wrigley reports.

The Lunar New Year Festival was celebrated Saturday at Houston's Taiwanese Heritage Society, but thoughts were far away, back to the homeland left years ago, but where family remains.

An earthquake Thursday, Taiwan time, claimed more than ten lives so far, and left more than 150 people injured or missing in the rubble. A high rise apartment building collapsed after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the area. The last large scale quake occurred 17 years ago on the island where some 24 million people live.

Experts say the area that was targeted was less densely populated than others, which avoided a larger casualty toll.

As many as 10-thousand people whose lives began in Taiwan are said to call Houston's home. It's a large part of the area's Asian population.

"More and more news came out and even though we're so far away, we feel like we have to do something," said Mei-Ling Chen of the Heritage Society. "That's why we taking donations and having a fundraising event."

Students who attend cultural classes at the society are also trying to raise donations. "I hope people donate money to Taiwan to build it up," said 16-year-old Helmmy Ching. His memories of Taiwan are dim, since he immigrated to the United States when he was only two, but like many ex-pats, he has still has family there.

Those to whom we spoke say their relatives appear to be accounted for, but the country will have to overcome the effects of a natural disaster. Taiwan is home to a lot of high tech industries, some of which are already said to be pledging relief funds.

Donations are being accepted at the Heritage Society on their web page, CLICK HERE.

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