Sea to Sky Filipinos are anxiously awaiting word from their friends and family living in the southern portion the Philippines. Rudy Bueno of Whistler said the people in the province of Leyte were hardest hit by super typhoon Haiyan. The death toll from the storm is estimated at 10,000.
Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday. Winds slammed into the islands along its path at speeds as high as 275 km/h (170 m/h). With the high winds came massive waves as high as six metres (20 feet).
Bueno said his relatives are in the northern part of the country but he knows Whistler residents who haven’t heard from their relatives in the hardest-hit areas of the southern part of the country.
Rev. Mark Bautista of St. Joseph’s Parish, the Catholic Church in Squamish, is one Sea to Sky resident who hasn’t heard from his relatives living in the storm zone.
There are many Filipinos in the church congregation who are waiting for word from their friends and family back home. Bautista said he’s waiting for direction from his church superiors in Vancouver before his congregation organizes a fundraising effort to support the survivors of Haiyan.
Marilyne Chapman at the Church on 99 in Squamish confirmed that her church also has a significant Filipino community so she too is looking to organize some kind of relief effort.
Bueno said a fundraising initiative in Whistler would be organized this week. He said organizers are looking to hold two events. One would be a dinner fundraiser with a bake sale. The other fundraiser, Bueno said, would be a concert featuring Filipino music.
“There’s no phone, there’s no roads, there’s nothing,” said Bueno of the communities hit by the typhoon. “The airport is flattened. The only people who can go to that place is the military using helicopters.”
He said 90 per cent of the province was flattened by the storm and he added there are Whistler residents who have friends and family in the devastated area.
“People there need food, they need everything,” he said. “They just walk around to find things. It’s indescribable what happened.”
The national disaster agency in the Philippines said more than four million people were impacted by the storm. Officials from the area reported drowning was a top cause of death and many people were crushed by fallen buildings as the storm slammed the Asian nation.
Premier Christy Clark issued a statement about the devastation. She said the images and video coming from the impacted areas are heartbreaking.
"Our prayers go out to the victims, all those British Columbians with family and friends in the storm's path, and everyone else in the country as they cope," said Clark.
The Red Cross is accepting donations at www.redcross.ca.
Check back for more information on the fundraising initiatives being planned in the corridor.