Alan Garcia didn’t want to spend the weekend dwelling on the fact that, since Friday, he hasn’t heard from close family members and friends living in the Philippines.
That’s when Typhoon Haiyan, packing wind gusts as high as 190 mph, killed untold thousands on the country’s string of islands, including the one he grew up on, Bohol.
On Sunday, Garcia instead concentrated on volunteering at the Filipino Community of Seattle’s center.
“I am in denial. I don’t want to think about it,” said Garcia, 60, of Sammamish, as he helped hundreds of Filipinos organize consulate paperwork. “There’s no communication to Bohol island and all the roads are impassable.”
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He’s hoping the lack of power to the island, which he still visits every year for reunions with old classmates, is the only reason his loved ones haven’t been able to respond to him and other family members.
Federal Way-based charity World Vision, which already had more than 100 staff members on the ground in the Philippines when the typhoon hit, said it wasn’t able to account for two of its workers in Tacloban City on Sunday. At least 37 other staff members have been affected by the storm, according to World Vision spokeswoman Amy Parodi.
World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that’s been working in the country since 1955, is planning to send more staff to the country by Monday but has been as hampered as other relief efforts in accessing the hardest-hit areas. They plan to help supply food, clean water and emergency shelter for about 400,000 people.
Parodi said some places have only been able to accept relief from volunteers who get through to areas via motorcycle or helicopter.
Meanwhile, Garcia is concentrated on finding ways to raise money for friends affected by the typhoon. He’s also trying to help those whose homes were destroyed — some swallowed up by sinkholes — by an Oct. 15 earthquake that killed more than 200 Bohol people.
Bert Caoili, former president of the Filipino Community of Seattle, also is raising funds through a local Filipino chapter of the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Caoili said that all proceeds raised will go to typhoon emergency-response efforts because the organization has clubs in the Philippines the money can be given to directly.
Caoili recommended donating money instead of clothes and food, which is expensive to ship overseas.
“Just like previous disasters people like to send food like rice, for example. But in a disaster like that you have no way to cook it,” Caoili said. “If you can send cash, that’s always best because they can figure out what is most needed over there with it.”
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.