116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Leo Lim awoke Monday morning to discover his wife, Zinnia, had been up all night surfing the Internet for updates about her hometown, Tacloban, the capital of the Philippine province of Leyte and the hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan late last week.
The Lims, who live in Shueyville, and many other local Filipinos are left in the dark worrying about their loved ones after the Category 5 storm left as many as 10,000 people dead. Unable to connect by phone or email, the Lims scan social media and news websites for new information.
"We are trying to call and email, but there is nothing you can do. really. You just wait and get news second hand," said Leo Lim, 78, a retired Mount Mercy professor who is from the Philippine province, Cebu.
The Lims have hope, though. They received two second-hand reports that Zinnia's brother's house was destroyed but he was seen walking around.
The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimates 3,613 Filipinos live in Iowa.
Lyn Veloso-Pretz, 64, of Cedar Rapids, is president of the Fil-Am Association of Eastern Iowa, which she said has about 200 members. She too is waiting for news about family and friends back home in Tacloban.
She said her group plans to send money directly to people they know through Walmart's money transfer, rather than through a larger organization. They have not organized a mechanism for the public to contribute.
"We are trying to get in touch with any of them, so we can help and send some thing for them," she said.
The American Red Cross has activated its location services, so people looking for someone can contact their local chapter. Financial contribution can be made at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.
People should not attempt to send physical goods, such as food or clothing, because there isn't a distribution system right now, said Peter Teahen, a public affairs volunteer for the American Red Cross based in Cedar Rapids.
The Filipino American Association of Iowa, based in Des Moines, set up a "Helping Hands" disaster relief fund through Veridian Credit Union branches. Contributions are for a medical mission and relief organizations such as the Philippine Red Cross and Catholic Charities, according to Al Snyder, president of the group.
Snyder's wife is from the Cagayan Valley, a northern part of the Philippines. They haven't heard from her family.
"We haven't been able to get a hold of them," Snyder said. "We know they lost the roof to their house. That was the last time we've been able to communicate. We are just praying that everyone is safe."
Local efforts for aid
[naviga:li]Victorious Harvest Church, a Filipino church with 80-100 members in Olin, is organizing a relief effort to support churches in their ministry in the Philippines. The donations will go through the LAMP Foundation International. To help, contact Pastor Ryann Feddersen at 319-521-5941.[/naviga:li]