Nanaimo community rallies for typhoon relief

NANAIMO – Filipino community is urging people to send donations to the Red Cross, after the Philippines was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Nanaimo’s Marissa Millie is holding onto news her family survived the Philippines typhoon disaster, but she is desperate to hear their voices.

An online posting she found Saturday said a priest checked the area in eastern Samar where her family is from and reported everyone survived. But communication remains down in the region where the super storm first hit and she hasn’t been able to reach them. Days after the typhoon struck, Millie also hasn’t heard from her niece, who was living in Tacloban – a city where thousands are believed dead.

“Until now I have not heard from her. No one has heard from her,” she said, sobbing. “I just want to hear from my family.”

Typhoon Haiyan – considered one of the largest on record – struck the Philippines on Friday, destroying villages and killing thousands.

The disaster has rocked the local Filipino community, according to representative groups, who say some people have lost both of their parents while others continue to wait for word.

The vast majority of members in the Vancouver Island Visayan Association have heard their family survived the typhoon, but have lost homes and could need access to relief, said Josephine Revano, association president.

Members are now co-ordinating a fundraiser and urging people to donate to the Red Cross.

Vancouver Island University and businesses, like the Coastal Community Credit Union, are also helping to collect dollars.

“We are a community and we are close and we are helping,” Revano said. “It is really devastating.  Most of our members have heard their families are safe, but they don’t have a place to live. Their houses have been washed away.”

With communication down, there is also little direct contact with families overseas and residents are worried about whether there is access to food and water, she said, adding that 24 of the association’s 30 members are from the area where the typhoon struck.