Filipino-American community in limbo after deadly typhoon cuts power to region

Filipino families across the United States are trying desperately to contact family members in the Philippines after a monster typhoon destroyed large portions of the country and left an estimated 1,000 dead.

"The communication is a problem," Reynaldo Cardenas of the Philippines Consulate General told "If you wanted to get in touch with the affected areas from here, you cannot directly call the affected areas so that's a big issue."

Typhoon Haiyan slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday leveling buildings, homes and cutting power to many of the country’s regions causing relatives and friends in the U.S. to largely rely on Facebook and Internet reports to determine the fate of their loved ones.

The Philippine Red Cross estimated more than 1,000 people were killed in the city of Tacloban alone, and at least 200 more in Samar Province after one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall slammed the country.

"Most, if not all, are in limbo right now because they can't contact them," Rommel Rivera, President of Filipino-American Association of Philadelphia and member of the Board of Governors at NaFFAA told

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"There's a lot of concern and  a lot of sadness that this happened again to the Philippines when we just had devastation a month or two ago with the earthquake," Rivera said.

Rivera was referring to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippine island of Bohol in October, killing 93 and wiping out historic churches, homes and bridges.


Following the earthquake, fundraising events and relief efforts were put in place by many organizations that Rivera said will now be used to funnel donations to victims of the typhoon.

Rivera also said point persons have been designated for people in the American-Filipino community that have been affected emotionally by the tragedies in the Philippines. Rivera said some have been able to contact government officials to check on the status of their relatives.

Reverend Ruben Cedino of the United Church of Christ in New York said his congregation will discuss what steps to take during Sunday’s service.

Cedino's congregation is largely made up of immigrants who were members of United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

"We are right now getting information from the Internet and Facebook, especially in the areas that were hit and have no power," Cedino told

"We are also planning new events to fund raise specifically for those affected," Rivera said, adding that one was held Friday night.

Cedino said his congregation also had fundraising efforts set up for the earthquake's devastation and will now focus on victims of the typhoon.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Max Roxas said it was too early to know exactly how many people had died in the storm and said the rescue operation is "ongoing."

"We expected a very high number of fatalities as well as injured," he said.

"All systems, all vestiges of modern living – communications, power, water – are all down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicated with the people in a mass sort of way," Roxas said.

Weather officials said Haiyan had sustained winds of 147 mph, with gusts of 170 mph when it made landfall.

By those measurements, Haiyan would be comparable to a strong Category 4 hurricane in the U.S., and nearly in the top category, a 5.

The Associated Press contributed to this report