Chicagoans band together in show of support for Typhoon victims - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Local Filipinos coordinate relief efforts for Philippine typhoon victims

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Local Filipino Americans are coordinating relief efforts while trying to reach family members in the Philippines, after Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the central islands and left an estimated 10,000 dead in one city alone. The storm plowed into Vietnam Monday with powerful winds, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate.

The first concern of family members in the states is trying to reach family members back home. Means of communication went down as that storm came in, and some were still waiting to hear word Monday morning.

"The night of the disaster I was following as much as I could on Twitter and Facebook but I lost contact with my family," Matt DeLeon said. "Now we are also using social media to reach out to networks of friends to get a more personal and specific message about how they can help."

But others were able to reach their family in the Visayas. By Sunday night, the typhoon's aftermath and devastation was settling in. Arlington Heights resident Michelle Laura-White counted her family's blessings.

"They just have minimal damage, just like trees down, cracks in the houses," Laura-White said.

Laura-White's loved ones survived, but for others, many did not. Those with relatives devastated by the typhoon are reaching out to Laura-White to find answers.

She's the Vice President of Chicago's Philippine American Network, and she's also been monitoring social media sites.

"It's amazing how you're able to get in contact with your family and friends in the Philippines," Laura-White said. "They're sharing and giving us status updates every 30 minutes, every hour. They're showing pictures of what's going on there, so that's been a relief for a lot of people."

The U.S. and other governments and agencies are mounting a major relief effort to help victims of the Philippine typhoon.

Brian Goldbeck, acting ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, issued a disaster declaration to provide an immediate $100,000 for relief efforts. Officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development are deployed around the country to monitor the damage.

U.S. military planes are arriving with supplies and personnel and leaving with evacuees. There are reports of bodies in the streets and shipwrecked vessels upon the coastlines.

Some residents are blaming the government for the amount of death and destruction, angry over the slow response to the natural disaster. Some areas are very hard to reach, cut off by flooding and landslides.

"It's hard because there are really some areas that are unreachable, maybe by bus and it would be a slow process," Streamwood resident Mariza Cabel-Torres said.

Cabel-Torres grew up in the storm ravaged area - her parents, four siblings and other relatives still live there.

"We are part of Leyte, but in the southern part. The roofs are destroyed, the walls and glass windows and those things...but it's not as worse as...the northern part of Leyte," Cabel-Torres said. "Of course they were crying and praying that the storm would go somewhere and thank God that they're safe… Actually last night I cried because we experienced that in 1984, there was typhoon and there was storm surge."

Half of their home was swept away, and that typhoon doesn't compare to Haiyan, or Yolanda, as it is called in the Philippines.

Locally, Filipino Americans are trying to mobilize efforts to help out there because everyone really feels like they have to help.

People in the Philippines have weather through many storms before, but Typhoon Haiyan is the worst in history. Entire villages reduced to rubble, no water, no electricity and very little food.

Churches and charity organizations are working on sending help, and those who work in local government are trying to organize efforts – like Matt DeLeon is in Cook County.

Although he acknowledges some are comfortable with bigger organizations like UNICEF or the Red Cross, others want to donate to their local churches. He has established a Facebook page called Philippine Typhoon Relief Chicago.

Here are more ways to help:

UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME

The United Nations World Food Programme said it has allocated $2 million for the disaster response and officials joined an assessment mission to survey damage in Leyte and Samar provinces.

WFP said it will send more than 40 tons of high energy biscuits and work with the Filipino government to help with logistics and emergency communications systems.

It asks for donations at www.wfpusa.org or by texting the word AID to 27722 to instantly donate $10.

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UNICEF

UNICEF said its staff in the Philippines is being repositioned to help in relief efforts and 66 tons of emergency supplies are being sent from Copenhagen. An airlift set to arrive on Tuesday will include water purification systems, storage equipment and sanitation supplies.

Donations can be made to UNICEF at unicef.org/support.

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RED CROSS

The American Red Cross said it has deployed two people to assist with assessments in the Philippines and activated its family tracing services. It asked those who want to support relief efforts to mail a check to their local American Red Cross chapter, with "Philippines Typhoons and Flood" in the memo line.

Go to redcross.org for local chapter information or redcross.org.ph to donate directly to the Philippine Red Cross.

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SALVATION ARMY

All disaster donations will be used for relief efforts and "to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors."

Text TYPHOON to 80888 to donate $10 or give online.

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CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES

Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations on its website emergencies.crs.org as it begins moving supplies and staff to respond to the typhoon.

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WORLD VISION

World Vision said it is putting together resources to assist 1.2 million people, including food, hygiene kits, emergency shelter and protection.

It asked for one-time donations to be made at worldvision.org.

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AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has begun collecting donations for relief efforts.

To contribute, go to www.jdc.org or call 212-687-6200.

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MERCY CORPS

Mercy Corps said it has launched emergency response efforts to provide food, water, shelter and basic supplies to typhoon survivors.

To contribute, go to www.mercycorps.org/typhoon or call (800) 292-3355.

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AMERICARES

AmeriCares is preparing to deploy an emergency response team to the Philippines.

To donate go to http://americares.org or call (800) 486-4357.

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SHELTERBOX

The Huffington Post reports ShelterBox provides families with a survival kit that includes a tent and other essential items while they are displaced or homeless. Learn more online.

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INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE

The International Rescue Committee has dispatched an emergency team to Manila and launched a $10 million appeal. The IRC will work to determine which of its areas of expertise - from water and sanitation to education - are most needed.

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JAPAN

Japan will fly a 25-member relief team of mostly medical staff.

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TAIWAN

Taiwan said it will send $200,000 in aid to help with relief efforts.

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AUSTRALIA

Australia announced assistance of 10 million Australian dollars ($9.4 million). That includes the deployment of an emergency medical team, aid to the U.N. Flash Appeal and aid to Australian non-governmental organizations for immediate life-saving assistance.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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