LYNNWOOD — Thousands of people died and many are without homes in an area that has no electricity, sanitation or food.
Relief is creeping into the Tacloban area of the Phillipines, which fell to the power of Haiyan, a typhoon with winds of 235 mph and a sea surge of about 13 feet.
Lynnwood resident Christine Umayam is heading to her native Philippines today to bring some help through her nonprofit organization, Child United.
The main mission of Child United, which she started in 2007, is to provide education for children in need in Japan, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Philippines. Each year, she travels to the Philippines with her charity, and is preparing herself for what she will find.
“This devastation is even worse,” Umayam said Wednesday.
Child United is a small organization but has already raised about $7,000, Umayam said. It donates mostly medication but also toiletries, clothing and food. These donations come from the community, with social media playing a role, she said.
“Facebook helps in how I am organizing. I am on it right now,” Umayam said.
The social network also helps Child United keep in touch with people from the Seattle area and beyond.
Umayam and one of her volunteers are flying out today, along with a video- photographer, for a three-week trip.
They intend to land at Cebu City, where they plan to buy food and water to start their road trip. The team plans to drive wherever it is safe and meet people on the way. They also plan to go to smaller islands, Umayam said.
Their last stop is to be Tacloban.
Tacloban is the hardest hit. It is the epicenter of damages. Umayam said she remains cautious about that stop.
On her return, Child United plans to keep helping.
People can donate at three drop off locations in Snohomish county, at Christ International Fellowship Ministries 2931-1/2 Broadway Ave., Everett; ABC Learning Center, 8601 Mukilteo Speedway, Ste. 502, Mukilteo and on 15402 14th Ave. West, Lynnwood.
“On Dec. 8, I will sit down with my team and see what went on, and organize the relief boxes,” Umayam said.
Another team plans to fly out in January to check that shipment.
Umayam is sad to see devastation that’s worse than what she has ever seen. Helping her home country is important for her.
“Wherever you are, devastation is devastating.” Umayam said. “Whatever we could do to help, we should do it.”
Marie Damman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Child United is looking for relief items such as toiletries, medication, towels and sheets, clothing, shoes, stuffed animals and nonperishable food. Go to childunited.com.