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Filipino-Minnesotans Rally To Help In Typhoon’s Wake

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – One of the most powerful storms ever ravaged several of the Philippine islands, and the death toll is rapidly growing.

As of Saturday night, as many as 10,000 are feared dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

The storm had winds of 190 miles per hour – making it the strongest tropical typhoon on record to make landfall.

The wind snapped trees and pushed waves up to four-stories high.

Cleanup and rescue operations are extremely difficult since there is no power and no phones in most places.

The storm is progressing to Vietnam, then is expected to hit China.

There are more than 1,300 Filipino-Americans living in the Twin Cities, and many are doing what they can to help family and friends on the islands.

Most have had little to no contact with family since the typhoon.

On Saturday night, Ramon Puerto shared his family’s heartache, and how he hopes people will help to ease their pain.

“It only took one hour of wind gusting, whistling and whatever to wipe out the compound of about six or seven houses,” Puerto.

He grew up on the island of Panay, near the provincial capital city of Iloilo.

He says knowing his siblings live 10 miles from shore makes it hard to watch images of all the destruction.

“House gone, you know. Crops is gone. Corn and rice, you know. They’re farmers,“ he said.

Puerto hasn’t been able to speak with his family, but he knows they survived.

”No talk. It’s only through social media, like Facebook,” he said.

Puerto is not alone. He finds support from others at the Philippine Center of Minnesota in Maplewood. Many who gathered there have family members who also lost everything.

Jose Rivera is president of the organization, which is doing what it can to send help to family members in need.

“That area was impacted about a month ago with the earthquake. Now, with the same disaster and flooding,” Rivera said.

Puerto says he only hopes people give to help those who now have nothing.

“Financially, to rebuild, of course,” Puerto said. “And prayers. I’m just glad that they’re safe. The whole family is safe.”

The Philippine Center of Minnesota houses several charitable organizations. And a group of Filipino nurses and doctors from the Twin Cities are planning a trip to help those in need.

If you would like to help in the relief effort, contact the American Red Cross.

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