Worry and tears are rippling through the Greater Trail Filipino community in the wake of deadliest storm to ever hit the Philippines.
“My uncle and cousins still live there,” said Siony Thompson, member of the West Kootenay Filipino Canadian Society. “I cannot get a hold of them because there is no electricity and the phone lines are only up for a short period of time.
“When I look at it on the TV I cannot stop crying,” said Thompson, with her voice cracking.
Thompson immigrated to Canada in 1966 and lived in Trail while a nurse at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. She is now retired and living in Genelle.
Thompson is originally from the province of Aklan on Panay Island, which is a south eastern region hard-hit by the tropical storm.
“No one can fly in or out of the airport so there is no way to get families out,” she explained. “And so far, I’ve been told that 444 houses have been damaged and I want to help.”
Thompson and fellow members of the Filipino Society are organizing a Dec. 1 fundraiser to send monetary aid to those affected by the typhoon.
The women are already preparing to bake traditional Filipino sweets to serve along with coffee or tea that day at the Genelle Hall. Live entertainment will be courtesy of guitarist and singer Ray Bouliane.
“All donations are appreciated and will go directly to the people whose homes have been destroyed,” said Thompson. “If we went through another agency the money will eventually get there but it will take a long time. They need our help now.”
To donate to the Filipino Society, or for information, call Thompson at 250-693-5476.
Typhoon Haiyan landed on the eastern seaboard of the Philippines Friday, although the full scale of destruction has yet to emerge, some estimates suggest the death toll could reach 10,000 and hundreds of thousands left without food, shelter or medicine.
The remote city of Tacloban took the full brunt of the storm that packed 237-kilometre-an-hour winds, whipping up six-metre walls of seawater that tossed ships inland and swept many out to sea.
“There is one girl who has lived in Trail for a couple of years but still has family and a house in Tacloban,” said Thompson. “Her house was on a hillside and when the storm hit it slid right down to the bottom, and that was it.”
Authorities said at least 9.7 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon.
The Canadian government has pledged $5 million in disaster relief and offered to match Canadian donations dollar for dollar. Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, which specializes in basic medical care, water purification, basic infrastructure repairs and streamlining communication systems, arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday.
With files from Canadian Press