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WV Filipinos Struggle To Find Family, Praise American Support

Reported by: Send eMail Kera Mashek
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Nov. 13, 2013 10:35 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 13, 2013 10:58 PM EST


Typhoon Local Impact
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Almost six days have passed since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, and the devastation continues to unfold.

About two thousand people are confirmed dead so far, a number that will likely rise. Thousands more people have been hurt following last weekend's storm. The center of the damage is the metropolitan area of Tacloban, where thousands of homes and businesses are in ruins. International aid is starting to pick up, with supplies arriving from the US and beyond. Looting is starting to become a problem in the hardest hit areas. It's a sign of how many Filipinos are desperate for help.

There is a significant Filipino population here in West Virginia. Many of them are worried about loved ones back home they can't reach, while praying for the survivors and the long road ahead to get their lives back together.

"I feel so helpless," Emmanuel Amores said.

Amores has been living in Charleston and working at CAMC for more than 20 years. He has several relatives back in the Philippines, and has not been able to find out where many of them are.

When asked if he worries if some of them are dead at this point, Amores said, "That's the hardest part, because I don't know."

Amores said it's heartbreaking to see what were once beautiful parts of his home country now in complete ruins. Making the typhoon even more devastating, some areas hit by the storm are still recovering from an earthquake just three weeks ago.
For those who lived through both disasters, there's now an incredible struggle to survive.

"When are they going to have their first meal or the food or even people who need to have surgery or needed to have some kind of emergency care, medical care, how can they get that?" Amores said.

With hospitals destroyed, and traveling across the 7,000 islands that make up the country, it's no wonder relief workers are just getting on the ground in the Philippines to help.

For Amores, images of the youngest victims are the toughest.

"Just looking at children that are in misery and much more parents who have lost their child...I'm not a parent myself but have 28 nephews and nieces and I cared for them and know how hard it is," Amores said. "So I plead to my fellow Americans, that we continue to support mostly through prayers and also whatever financial needs, material goods, medicine, clothing, any kind of thing to show them that we care."

And he's grateful for the support already being shown right here in Charleston from co-workers to his church family.

"Filipinos are a very resilient people," he said. "They have great strength and love of God, and rely on their faith. But also, they rely on a lot of the kind, good-hearted people, like here in America, and I have seen other countries as well that have lent their support, and that comforts me."

Some of Amores' co-workers are putting together medical supplies to send to the Philippines and Sacred Heart Church in Charleston will be taking up a special collection this weekend to benefit Catholic charities working on storm relief efforts.

Meanwhile, both the Filipino and American Red Cross are on the ground helping with disaster relief. Crews there are making sure people have access to food, water, and medical care. There is also attention focused on re-establishing communications and assessing all the damage.

Back here at home, people with connections to the Philippines are encouraged to take advantage of the "family tracing operation" to track down lost loved ones.

"The family tracing opportunity that we provide gives people a lot of comfort and hope that if they have a lost loved one in the Philippines that they will be able to find them, and it's a wonderful service to be able to provide to, you know, our citizens," said Erica Mani, American Red Cross Regional CEO.

Filipinos here are encouraged to contact their local chapter of the Red Cross to take advantage of that service. You can also help relief efforts by pledging money or donating blood.

To learn more by visit RedCross.org or call 1-800-Red-Cross, and press option six to be connected with your local chapter.

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