Local Filipinos anxious for relatives after deadly typhoon

Relief efforts getting off the ground in Cranbrook, Kimberley

  • Nov. 13, 2013 10:00 a.m.

Barry Coulter and Carolyn Grant

The Philippines is reeling after a devastating typhoon caused immense havoc on the country’s eastern shore last week. And local Filipino-Canadians are anxious and worried for family members, as communications are only just starting to come back on stream.

Cranbrook resident Lourdes Roxas-Butalid, who is President of the Filipino-Canadian Association of the East Kootenay, said her hometown of Bogo was wiped out in the typhoon.

Bogo is on the island province of Cebu. The northern part of Cebu, Roxas-Butalid said, sustained damage equivalent to the scenes from neighbouring Leyte and the city of Tacloban, whose images have dominated international news coverage of the disaster.

“I only just talked to my mother Monday morning,” Roxas-Butalid said. “There was no communication for days.

“It was so depressing to see. I was just there recently. I couldn’t sleep, worrying about friends, classmates, my family … I’ve read on Facebook how some of my friends are now homeless. One of my friend’s homes is just a skeleton. Another has had the roof torn off.”

Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines with a storm surge two storeys high and some of the highest winds ever measured in a tropical cyclone – up to 314 kilometres an hour, according to some reports. An untold number of homes were blown away, and thousands of people are feared dead.

The Filipino-Canadian Assciation of the East Kootenay has more than 100 members, most of whom have family members still in the  Philippines, an archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands.

In Cranbrook and Kimberley, some relief initiatives are getting off the ground. Roxas-Butalid said Bob Cartier of the local A&W is gearing up for a fundraising drive to help local Filipino-Canadians’ relatives and family members still in the Philippines, who’ve been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Details are still emerging — watch the Townsman/Bulletin for further details.

Roxas-Butalid said local Filipino-Canadians can contact her to also get involved in the initiative. They can call her at 250-581-0126.

The most important thing people can do is donate money to help not just the rebuilding effort, but to ensure that people can survive right now, says Graham Mann, East Kootenay Ambassador for ShelterBox.

The Canadian government has announced that it will match every donation made to Philippine recovery. So if you donate one dollar, the government will donate the same.

There are many charitable organizations offering help. The Canadian Red Cross, for example, has begun fundraising, as has UNICEF and many others.

Mann says the ShelterBox is exactly what is needed in the Philippines right now.

A ShelterBox is a tent with everything ten people need to survive, from water purification equipment to bedding and utensils. One ShelterBox costs $1,200 and Rotary’s ShelterBox team is already on the ground in the Philippines.

“We have ShelterBoxes stockpiled around the world, but there are never enough,” Mann said. “ShelterBox has had a team in the Philippines since mid-October in response to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol on October 15. They are now assessing the need associated with the typhoon.”

Mann says ShelterBoxes stockpiled in Australia are on their way, but more will be needed and the appeal is going out to raise funds.

In Kimberley donations can be made at Kootenay Savings Credit Union (cheques should be made payable to Kimberley Rotary Club) or at Grubstake Pizza.  Donations can also be made online directly to ShelterBox Canada at www.shelterboxcanada.org.  Donations of $20 or more will receive a tax receipt.  For further information please contact Graham Mann at 250-427-5057 or gmann@shelterboxvolunteer.org.

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