Filpino-American community groups throughout the Bay Area are scrambling to send relief — both supplies and money — to help those in the wide swath of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. The tropical cyclone, possibly the most powerful ever recorded, swept across the center of the island nation on Friday (Bay Area time) with sustained winds of nearly 200 mph. There’s no definitive word on casualties yet, but Philippines officials have estimated the storm killed at least 10,000 people.
KQED’s Nina Thorsen visited one of the relief drives Sunday in the parking lot of a car dealership in San Bruno. About 25 people were working with Project PEARLS, a group set up to help kids in the Manila slums with food and education. Project PEARLS was co-founded by Francesca Mateo, whose mother happened to be flying into Manila the day the typhoon swept through the central Philippines. Sunday, Mateo stood in front of a pile of miscellaneous donations, sorting them into about two dozen large cartons.
“We have separate boxes for the toiletries, we have one specifically for the babies, like diapers and baby food. And then we have canned food, noodles, non-perishable items, soap, toothpaste,” Mateo said.
Jennifer Cortes helped put the relief drive together over the last three days, even though she’d been somewhat distracted. “My parents are actually in that area,” she said. “It’s been very, very difficult. It’s been three days since I last spoke to them. So when I, when I heard that somebody said that they’re all OK, I was happy.”
(Google has launched a Person Finder to aid those searching for family and friends in the wake of the disaster. Also, if you’re looking for a U.S. citizen in the Philippines, you should call the U.S. State Department at 510-595-4414 or 408-577-2054.)
Other volunteers stood on the sidewalk, holding hand-lettered signs up asking drivers for their donations. About once every five minutes, someone pulled into the parking lot and volunteers rushed to take boxes and bags out of their cars.
Another Filipino-American volunteer, Catherine Herbert, said she brought her 11-year-old son Cameron along to teach him the rewards of volunteering.
“When people need help, we help. And that’s simply what I’m trying to do today, is help,” she said. “… Seeing the devastation, I needed to just come out and help with what I could.”
The group said that by the end of the day Sunday it had packed up 47 cartons of goods and $1,645 in donations that it will send to the Philippines Red Cross.
Other local, national, and international aid efforts include:
- NBC News produced a comprehensive list of major international aid groups responding to the disaster: How to help: Organizations offering relief to Typhoon Haiyan survivors
- The Philippines Red Cross is collecting online donations.
- The American Red Cross has started a Typhoon Appeal, including online donations.
- National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). The group’s regional coordinator for relief in the Bay Area is Ryan Leano, (626) 534-4971 or (415) 333-6267.
- West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center: Collecting donations at its location in downtown San Francisco, 175 7th Street (between Howard and Mission streets). (415) 431-6266.
- The Filipino Community of Solano County is collecting medicine, clothes, non-perishable foods and other items to send to the Philippines. To make donations, call Norma Placido, the president of the group’s board, at (707) 643-8057.