Local News

Monday, Nov 11 2013 06:25 PM

Kern Filipino community trying to organize disaster relief effort

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    By AP Photo/Aaron Favila

    Survivors cover their noses from the stench of bodies left on streets of typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan-ravaged Philippine islands faced a daunting relief effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.

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  2. 2 of 5

    By AP Photo/Aaron Favila

    A ship that was washed ashore lies under damaged houses in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan-ravaged Philippine islands faced a daunting relief effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.

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  3. 3 of 5

    By AP Photo/Aaron Favila

    Survivors carry bags of rice from a warehouse which they stormed due to a shortage of food at typhoon-ravaged Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. Typhoon-ravaged Philippine islands faced an unimaginably huge relief effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.

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  4. 4 of 5

    By AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

    Residents queue up to receive treatment and relief supplies at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013, following Friday's typhoon Haiyan that lashed this city and several provinces in central Philippines.

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  5. 5 of 5

    By AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

    Residents queue up to receive treatment and relief supplies at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013, following Friday's typhoon Haiyan that lashed this city and several provinces in central Philippines.

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BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

DELANO -- With the scope of Typhoon Haiyan's destruction coming into focus, the local Filipino community is scrambling to figure out how it can help, even as some families fret about the fate of loved ones back home.

It's bad enough that communications with the country's battered island of Leyte and the city of Tacloban are down.

Related Info

More than half a million people in the Philippines have been displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, with an estimated 10,000 killed in the city of Tacloban alone. Here are some organizations accepting donations for relief efforts:

American Red Cross: redcross.org: 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767)

CARE International: care.org: 800-422-7385

Catholic Relief Services: crs.org: 877-435-7277

Christian Aid Mission: christianaid.org: 434-977-5650

Lutheran World Relief: lwr.org: 800-597-5972

Oxfam America: oxfam.org: 800-77-OXFAM (800-776-9326)

Save the Children: savethechildren.org: 800-728-3843

UNICEF: unicefusa.org: 800-FOR-KIDS (800-367-5437)

World Food Program USA: wfpusa.org: 202-747-0722

But in the United States, banks and local offices of relief organizations were closed Monday for Veterans Day, preventing the Filipino community here from mobilizing.

Kern has nearly 16,000 residents of Filipino descent, almost 2 percent of the county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Even people without family in the storm's path are trying to pull together support for survivors.

"My phone has been ringing nonstop since Friday," said Jay Tamsi, a Bakersfield businessman who helps put on an annual festival of Filipino culture in Delano.

From the moment news of the typhoon broke, people have been asking him what they can do to help.

Tamsi said he's trying to get all those offers organized into some kind of cohesive effort, but has been hampered by the inability to call or email storm-ravaged areas.

"We want to do something, obviously, but we want to make sure that any money that is collected is really used for the people it's intended to help, so we have to do some legwork first," Tamsi said. "There are a lot of dangerous people who might take advantage."

Tamsi said Monday he would call two international relief agencies when their offices reopen today to find out where to send money and how. In the meantime, he's compiling a list of people who want to donate.

Teresita Petricio is among them. She owns Fil Bake Shop, a bakery in Delano, and hasn't had any luck getting through to family members in the country's Visayan Islands region.

"I can't reach anyone individually," she said. "All I can do is watch the news coming from the Philippines and at least try to get financial help to the area.

"It's very bad. Very bad. They need food and clean water and medicine."

Lillian Lacson, 79, of Delano, only got through to her family on Monday.

"They're all right, thank God," she said. "Where they live, there wasn't too much damage, but I can only sympathize with the people who are still looking for people who are still missing."

Lacson said it's hard for her to fathom the assault on her homeland, which was still recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Oct. 15.

Norma Garcia, 46, of Delano, is from an area not affected by the typhoon, "but it's near the sea, also," she said, so she is deeply unnerved by the disaster.

"To have just had this earthquake, and then the storm, I don't know how you recover. We are used to typhoons, but not this strong. This is different."

Jennifer Bean's entire family lives in Tacloban.

"I haven't slept in four days," said Bean, 28, of Bakersfield.

Phone service and power are down, and she hasn't been able to contact any of her relatives.

"I'm just hoping and waiting for a call. I just worry and worry," Bean said. "I don't know if anyone is still alive."

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