Ottawa’s Filipino community can do little but focus their efforts into fundraising and try to contact loved ones after last week’s devastating typhoon.
The confirmed death toll so far from Typhoon Haiyan is 942, but officials say as many as 10,000 people may have been killed when the storm brought 315 km/h winds to the southeast Asian country.
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Susan Teodoro, one of around 15,000 Filipinos in Ottawa, said she’s been praying for the lives of her nine siblings and their 50 children over the last five days.
"It is really tough ... I cannot sleep because it’s hard to contact them,” she said.
"I heard that the town where I was born was wiped out and two days [ago] I heard the news there was a mass grave."
Teodoro said she last heard from her family, who were living near the devastated city of Tacloban, about 12 hours before the typhoon struck.
She said they were getting ready for the storm’s arrival, but she doesn’t know if they escaped unharmed.
Ottawa-based radio show keeps families updated
Regina Sosing said she’s hosting Tinig Pinoy Radio from her Kanata basement, monitoring the few social media messages that are coming from the Philippines in hopes they can bring good news over internet radio.
"A few of our listeners have found their family members," she said.
"We probably have, in Ottawa, about 10 or so families that we know of who were affected, perhaps more."
Teodoro has been holding vigil at Assumption Church in central Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood, praying to St. Jude — the patron saint of desperate causes.
Joining her has been Father Pedro Arana, who said he’s asking Ottawa residents to be generous with donations.
"The worry is this typhoon has shredded houses in all places, practically flat in places, and nothing is left for the people to rebuild," he said.
A mass was held Monday night at Assumption Church to begin two weeks of fundraising efforts, which will end with a concert Nov. 24.