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Filipinos In Philadelphia Area Are Unsure If Families Are Still Alive

(Thelma Santos and her family are searching for loved ones in the Philippines. Credit: CBS)

(Thelma Santos and her family are searching for loved ones in the Philippines. Credit: CBS)

Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s difficult to imagine the desperation felt by Filipinos living in our area, unable to contact loved ones in harm’s way.

Communications in many cities in the Philippines have been essentially cut off, and many people with families inside of the cities hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan have no idea if their loved ones are dead or alive.

More than 10,000 are thought to be dead in the city of Tacloban alone.

Thelma Santos lives in Sewell, New Jersey. Her sister Fey lives in Tacloban, and Thelma hasn’t been able to contact her yet.

(Thelma Santos is looking for her sister Fey, pictured above. Photo provided.)

(Thelma Santos is looking for her sister Fey, pictured above. Photo provided.)

Santos subscribes to Filipino television channels, but she says she hasn’t been able to force herself to watch.

When asked what she’s afraid to see, Santos replied, “Her. Or my cousin.”

Those evacuated from the hardest hit areas of the Philippines are now effectively refugees, and they are desperate for help.

“Get international help to come here, now,” pleaded a woman who escaped the storm. “This is really worse than hell.”

In New Jersey, Santos echoed the request for aid. “I don’t care if it’s twenty-five cents,” she said tearfully. “At least it can buy some bread for the children.”

Richard Penaranda has family in Tacloban as well, and he’s heading to the Philippines to search for them on Tuesday.

“We can see people dead, floating on the streets,” Penaranda said, describing the grisly images and video footage he sees on Filipino TV.

The Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia met earlier on Sunday and said they are moving forward with plans to implement a relief program to help people in the wake of the storm.

Those plans will take some time to put in motion. In the meantime, there are several ways to help with the relief efforts from right here in the Delaware Valley.

The Red Cross, UNICEF, and the World Food Program all have donation pages set up on their websites.

Typhoon Haiyan has since made landfall in Vietnam, where 600,000 people have been evacuated.

President Obama has pledged U.S. aid, saying he is deeply saddened by the loss of life and the extensive damage.

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