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Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

County’s Filipinos wait for word, begin aid work

Members of the Filipino community wait for word from family and friends after the devastating Philippines typhoon and begin work to provide aid.

LYNNWOOD -- Pining Reyes of Lynnwood doesn't have relatives who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan, but the Philippines native feels deep concern for her country's people.
"We are so far behind as far as the economic condition of our people," said Reyes, 67. "It's a struggle to put food on the table, and many people lost everything, it's very heartbreaking."
Authorities have estimated that 10,000 people died in Friday's typhoon, already considered one of the worst in history. Countless others are homeless. The storm has affected about 4 million people, according to the nation's disaster agency.
Reyes has been putting the word out for people to send personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and towels through the Filipino Community of Seattle.
She's been working with the Seattle organization because it will be able to mobilize more quickly, she said.
"It takes planning to reach all our people. In Lynnwood we do not have the manpower to do this," she said.
Reyes, who has been in the United States for 43 years, is a member of the city of Lynnwood's Diversity Commission.
Perla Sanchez of Lynnwood said she has cousins in her hometown of Pinamalayan -- only an hour from several towns that suffered severe flooding in the storm.
Her relatives are OK. "Thank God," she said.
Sanchez does have two friends from the Puget Sound area who are vacationing in the Philippines and she hasn't heard from them, she said.
Sanchez has lived here since 1984. She said she's been listening to DZMM, a Filipino radio network. She heard that 6,000 tourists were stranded in one area.
Some people are going into the devastated areas to do what they can, she said. Rescuers encountered blocked roads and damaged airports as they have tried to get tents, food and medicine into the ravaged areas.
Sanchez has a sister in Manila, which was not hard hit compared to the more easterly islands, and believes her to be OK.
Maria Ambalada of Lynnwood, whose brother is visiting there, she said he believes he's OK also, as are her cousins.
Ambalada, a Lynnwood planning commissioner, said the devastation was increased by the fact that many people live close to the shorelines on the outer islands.
"They're fishermen, they live on seafood," she said.
Many of them likely had been out on long fishing trips when the storm hit and were lost at sea, Ambalada said.
It's difficult to contact people in those outlying areas even under normal circumstances, she said.
In the cities, many people live in makeshift shacks that are easily blown or washed away in storms, Ambalada said.
"They get caught asleep in flash floods," she said.
Ambalada, a native of the island of Luzon, where Manila is located, has been in America for 54 years. She's planning a return trip to the Philippines when things calm down a bit.
Reyes said her hometown of Kawit, not far south of Manila, suffered flooding during a storm in August. The town is the birthplace of Filipino independence, she said.
She had already organized a fundraiser in Lynnwood for the town for this past Sunday.
People who gave at that event also expressed an interest in donating to help the victims of Haiyan, Reyes said.
"Whatever we can do, it's a matter of conscience. What we do to help them, we do the best we can. I would not discourage anybody from helping in any way we can," she said.
How to aid relief efforts
The U.S. and other governments and agencies are mounting a major relief effort to help victims of the Philippine typhoon.
Charities working to provide relief in the Philippines include:
American Red Cross: The Red Cross has launched fundraising efforts specifically for the Philippines as well as a second fund for other countries affected by the typhoon, Chuck Morrison, executive director of American Red Cross Snohomish County, said Sunday. If local groups are considering fundraising events, Morrison asked that they contact the chapter first at 425-252-4103.
Individuals can mail a check to their local chapter with “Philippines Typhoons and Flood” in the memo line, or go to redcross.org or redcross.org.ph to donate directly to the Philippine Red Cross.
The Red Cross has activated family tracing services, 888-407-4747.
The United Nations World Food Program is accepting donations at www.wfpusa.org or by texting the word AID to 27722 to instantly donate $10.
UNICEF is accepting donations at unicef.org/support.
Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations on its website, emergencies.crs.org, as it begins moving supplies and staff to respond to the typhoon.
World Vision, based in Federal Way, asks for donations to be made at worldvision.org.
Mercy Corps, based in Seattle, is accepting donations at www.mercycorps.org/typhoon or by calling 800-292-3355.
AmeriCares is accepting donations at americares.org or by calling 800-486-4357.
The Filipino Community of Seattle can be reached at 206-722-9372.
Comcast is making the Filipino Channel available free to its customers in the state through Nov. 18. The channel is available on Xfinity TV channel 241.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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