A local resident with family in Philippines is planning a fundraiser to help people there after a deadly typhoon that hit on Friday left at least 940 people dead, and thousands more missing or homeless.
"On one level it's very, very difficult for me, to see all the images," said Karl Nieva in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Monday.
Nieva grew up in the Philippines but now calls Waterloo Region home.
"I couldn't get through the phones to my family. Everybody was calling in from around the world, trying to locate their family, trying to figure out if they're OK. The only thing that was working was BlackBerry Messenger," he said.
"I'm very thankful that my godmother and my cousins have BlackBerry, and they let me know everyone was OK."
Although the reported death toll on Monday morning was just over 940, that number is expected to climb, perhaps as high as 10,000, as authorities move into new areas and retrieve bodies.
'The winds just totally gutted the place'
Nieva said he spoke to one friend over the weekend, living in Paranaque, a city south of Manila.
"He was actually asked to go around in his area's hospitals, to gather body bags, because there are dead people all over the place," said Nieva.
"It's so traumatizing for the children and for people in general when you see bodies floating down the river, bodies where, you know, the street was, now it's just this muddy pool."
Nieva said that Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit cities, was totally destroyed.
"These are proper homes, these are cement block homes. The winds just totally gutted the place," he said.
"The big surge of water just made it even worse. We're looking at probably 90 per cent destruction in all these areas."
Nieva is planning to hold a fundraising dinner at Entertaining Elements in downtown Kitchener, with meat donated by Brady's Meats and other groups donating food or wine. He is asking people to follow him on Twitter @thekarltopia for more information on his dinner.
"It's going to be a very long process," said Nieva of the rebuilding.
"It's going to be years."
People can also make donations to the Red Cross' Haiyan Typhoon fund or can text "redcross" or "rouge" to 30333.