YOU CAN HELP TOO
TORONTO - A savage storm which devastated parts of the Philippines left some members of Canada's Filipino community fearing the loss of family, friends and childhood homes.
Many gathered Sunday to pray for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, and gather aid resources to send to the hardest-hit areas of the Asian country.
"There is so much to worry about because we cannot communicate with our family back home," said Toronto resident Josephine Herrera.
The 51-year-old who came to Canada in 2002, said her family home had been damaged and her two sisters were stranded in a major city with no knowledge of how other relatives were doing.
"At this very moment I want to do everything I cannot do because I am far away from them," she said anxiously.
Typhoon Haiyan is now believed to have killed as many as 10,000 people in one Philippine city alone, and officials say the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach areas cut off by flooding and landslides.
Power and communications have yet to be restored after the typhoon unleashed ferocious winds and giant waves that washed away homes and schools.
As news of the damage continued to worsen, a number of Canadian churches drew together groups of people eager to help support victims of the typhoon in some way.
"We have some members who are affected and in fact they are still not able to contact some of their loved ones," said pastor Rodrigo Felomino of the Filipino Alliance Church of Toronto.
"There will be anxiousness and for (the rest of) us of course, the mood would really be asking the question 'what can we do?'"
Felomino said meetings would be held Sunday to decide what goods — like tinned food, blankets — could be gathered to send over to the Philippines.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said Canada will provide as much as $5 million to support humanitarian organizations helping typhoon victims.
A massive relief operation is already underway, with some Canadian organizations deploying teams to the Philippines.
A four-person rapid response Global Medic crew has left Toronto for the Philippines, taking with it water purification units and other supplies.
Meanwhile, the director of CARE Canada's humanitarian assistance and emergency team said his organization plans to provide immediate essentials like shelter, water and food to communities that have lost everything.
Typhoon Haiyan raced across the eastern and central Philippines this weekend, inflicting serious damage to at least six of the archipelago's more than 7,000 islands.
It weakened as it crossed the South China Sea before approaching northern Vietnam, where it was forecast to hit land either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Canadians needing urgent consular help following Typhoon Haiyan can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call collect 613-996-8885.
How can you help?
Anyone wishing to help the victims can donate online at www.redcross.ca/typhoon or at a local Red Cross office. You can also call 1-800-418-1111.