By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many of the tens of thousands of Filipino-Americans in our area are hoping for the best and bracing for the worst as they wait to hear from family members affected by the superstorm now tearing through the Pacific nation.
“It’s very upsetting because there are so many people impacted,” says Louisabella Kampmeyer, president of the Filipino-American Association of Montgomery County.
Kampmeyer is originally from the southernmost part of the Philippines, which is being pummelled by Typhoon Haiyan (locally called “Yolanda”), and she is the only one of six siblings living in the United States.
“Part of my relatives are in the area that being hit,” she says. “They are right now being sheltered in one of the schools in the local area, so communication is really hard. That’s the last that I have heard.”
Kampmeyer was only able to get a few text messages through to her sister yesterday. No calls.
“Our brother is right in the area where the typhoon made landfall,” she says. “The last time they heard from him was yesterday, and it’s just…” she says, her voice trailing off.
Kampmeyer says her organization will be joining other Filipino-American groups in the area to mobilize and help those who may be affected by the storm.
“We are coordinating all effort because we are nationwide to help out the community affected there, as well as people in the US who have families there,” says Rommel Rivera, MD, president of the Filipino-American Association of Philadelphia and a board member of the Filipino-American Association of the United States.
Rivera, who is a psychologist, says his family lives in the northern portion of the Philippines, which was not as heavily affected by the typhoon.
But, he says, he’s getting calls from area residents who are worried about their family members.
“People who may be nervous, anxious, suffering from a sort of depression,” he says. “They are unable to eat or sleep or focus on their work. I want them to know that there is help if they want it.”
He says his organization is taking calls and referring people to specific locations for support.
As for how the community can help those affected by the superstorm, he says monetary donations would be best. For more information, go to www.fecgp.org.