JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Filipino-Americans are devastated to hear about what's going on in their homeland.
Millions are displaced, thousands feared dead, and carnage everywhere. Those who survived have to deal with the risk of disease, dirty water, and hunger, among other things.
The Red Cross came to Channel 4 studios Tuesday evening to collect donations for the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines.
"We're hearing people from not only northeast Florida, we're hearing from people in St. Johns County and Duval County. We're also hearing from people from Southeast Georgia, so it's just a testimony to the people in this community and how they step up every single time something happens, whether it's here, across the country, or quite frankly anywhere in the world," said Red Cross' Christian Smith.
The Red Cross phone bank lines opened at 5 p.m. Tuesday and closed at 7 p.m., but the phones kept ringing until well after 7 p.m. Channel 4 viewers donated $17,135 that will go to the victims of the storm.
"My mother's home is already completely wiped out," said Victoria Houston, who's worried about her family. "I don't know if they're alive. Please let us know if they're alive."
"I haven't slept for five days," said Monica Fresnido Andrade, who's worried about her parents. "I tried to call all the emergency hotlines, Red Cross members."
Those in the Philippines are not forgotten. Northeast Florida is mobilizing.
"People are actually coming and getting groceries," said Manny Eco, who owns an Asian Grocery store on 103rd Street on the Westside. "People are picking up nonperishable items, canned goods, cereals. I've seen some toiletries there as well."
Eco, who also runs a shipping business, is gathering supplies to send to the hardest hit areas. His company's picking up the tab to send them over.
"We're actually doing it in the entire state or all the eight states in the Southeast," he said.
"There has been outpouring of generosity, and I think the Filipino community and other people who've reached out to us," said Doreen Flippin.
Flippin is behind We Filipinos Inc., a nonprofit that's helping Eco gather supplies. It's also hosting a fundraiser Friday night at Maharlika Hall & Sports Grill at Beach Boulevard and San Pablo Road.
"We want to make sure that the funds that we raise go directly to the people," Flippin said. "We will welcome any nonperishable goods, canned goods, used clothing, whatever."
The Philippines have a long way to go in the wake of such an epic storm, but those in Jacksonville hope their good deeds will help make it just a little easier.
"It's a big effort with the devastation that happened, and I'm very thankful that a lot of people are responding," Eco said.
Not only is the Red Cross helping to raise money for the victims of the typhoon, they are also working to get loved ones reconnected since the storm. The Red Cross has ways for families in the U.S. to connect with their families in the Philippines. The Red Cross also can connect families in the U.S. with their loved ones who may have been traveling during the storm.
"We do have a family tracing service and what that allows us to do is that if there's family members that are citizens in those particular countries and they have been separated and they cannot make contact, then the people here in the United States can contact their local Red Cross here, they can call us at 358-8091, and then we can initiate that family tracing project for them," said Smith. "If you have a family member that's a U.S. citizen then what you want to do is contact the U.S. state department cause the U.S. state department is going to be that facilitating process for you to locate that loved one and you can do that by contacting 1-888-407-4747."
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Red Cross can do so by calling the local Red Cross office at 904-358-8091.
The following locations are also taking donations in Jacksonville:
- Maharlika Hall and Sports Grill, 14255 Beach Blvd.
- JGM Asian Mart, 7457 103rd St.
- Mike Cell Oriental Grocery, 10730 Atlantic Blvd.
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