SAN DIEGO - As Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines Friday, local Filipino families prayed their loved ones were safe.
Tina Balch is one of those waiting to hear from her relatives overseas. Most of her mom’s side still lives in Tacloban, one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
“I’m hoping and praying that they evacuated because we don’t know what to expect of this, “ Balch said from her Mira Mesa home.
She has been using social media like Facebook to keep in touch, but since the storm hit she has not heard from anyone.
“Right now, we’re just in an unknown stage because we have no communication whatsoever. There’s a blackout back home. No electricity, no radio, TV, or any local news. It’s just the unknown and it’s killing us because we don’t know what’s going on right now,” Balch said.
Balch grew up in the Philippines and remembers the devastation of the typhoons.
“You can hear the wind. The sound is scary in itself… the very next day you see everything is wiped out,” Balch said, recalling a typhoon she lived through while she was in elementary school.
An estimated 150,000 people of Filipino descent live in San Diego County according to latest numbers from county records.
Locally, an organization called Gawad Kalinga USA is helping with relief efforts.
It plans to raise money to send food packs overseas.
Gawad Kalinga director Tony Olaes says the hope is to raise money to send 20,000 food packs as soon as possible with Philippine amphibious vehicles from the military in the Philippines.
Each food pack is about five dollars.
“Right after that typhoon hits, its those three, four days that are going to be crucial where the government can’t hit everybody,” Olaes said.
Log onto www.gk-USA.org for more information.