Windsor’s Filipino community is rallying to help to help its homeland after a super typhoon swept through the Philippines and killed approximately 1,000 people on the weekend.
Milo Santos, president of the Windsor Filipino Community Centre, was in Toronto for a wedding when the typhoon made landfall.
When he arrived home, he immediately called for a meeting Monday night. He spent the day accepting and organizing donations.
“So we can respond as quickly as we can,” he said.
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“When I saw the reality, the power of the storm, it was unbelievable,” Santos said. “The thing about the Philippines is we get used to these kind of conditions and weather but not this kind of power.”
Authorities said at least 9.7 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon, which is called Yolanda in the Philippines but is known as Haiyan elsewhere in Asia. It's one of the most powerful recorded typhoons to ever hit land and likely the deadliest natural disaster to beset this poor Southeast Asian nation.
“This is different from the others because everything is flattened,” said Mila Lim, a member of the community centre’s board of directors. “"My heart's breaking because I know what they're feeling because I was born there"
She has relatives in Ormoc City and Tacloban City. Lim doesn't know if they survived the storm. She said she saw her maiden name among the dead listed but she can't be sure.
“That's our town. That's where my ancestors come from, my parents, my grandparents, my great, great grandparents, that's where they started,” Lim said.
Philippine soldiers were distributing food and water in Tacloban, and assessment teams from the United Nations and other international agencies were seen for the first time. The U.S. military dispatched food, water, generators and a contingent of Marines to the city, the first outside help in what will swell into a major international relief mission.
“Water is like gold,” said Cora Santos, wife of Milo Santos.
Canada is among the countries working on helping the Philippines. Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted Monday that he had spoken with Filipino President Benigno Aquino III on Monday morning. He said Canada is ready to offer "additional assistance" after announcing Sunday that it would offer up to $5 million in aid for the relief effort.
The Windsor Filipino Community Centre is accepting donations. They prefer cash because that can be sent right away.
“Any donations are accepted,” Cora Santos said holding a cheque for $100. “This is timely and nice that’s it being done.”
“I was watching the TV and I can’t help but cry. Five or 10 or 15 dollars will help,” she said through tears.