Yingjia Hu, an acupuncturist in Mountlake Terrace, talks of her relatives' home in Sichuan province, flattened by the 7. 9-magnitude earthquake that struck...
Yingjia Hu, an acupuncturist in Mountlake Terrace, talks of her relatives’ home in Sichuan province, flattened by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck west central China Monday.
Her cousin’s father-in-law died there, her relatives believe. They haven’t been able to find his body in the rubble.
Hu has sent them money, but doesn’t know what else to do. “They lost everything,” she said.
Among the 2,500 members of Chinese Microsoft Employees, the e-mails this week became almost nonstop: what the latest news was, who was able to reach relatives, what they could do to help.
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The Puget Sound area’s ties to China run deep and wide, reflected this week in a flurry of donations and planned fundraisers.
“There are so many different people and organizations — individuals, government agencies, businesses — trying to do something,” said Jimmy Chen, a Puyallup businessman who co-chairs the Washington-Sichuan Province Friendship Association.
Boeing has made an initial contribution of $250,000 and will match employee donations to the American Red Cross, according to the Washington, D.C.-based U.S.-China Business Council.
Microsoft is making an initial donation of $143,000 to the Red Cross Society of China and said its China subsidiary is contacting local response organizations to identify areas where its technology can help.
Microsoft is also using its local Chinese home pages on Microsoft.com and MSN.com to publicize ways users can donate to more than 40 organizations providing assistance. The company said it would also match contributions from its China- and U.S.-based employees.
On Wednesday night, some three dozen people, representing about 15 China-related groups, gathered in Bellevue to form Washington Sichuan Earthquake Relief.
The organization wants to “express to Chinese earthquake victims that overseas Chinese in Washington state are behind them,” said Dennis T. Su, a group member and president of China Tomorrow Education Foundation, which builds and improves schools in rural China.
The group also has long-term goals.
Disaster relief is being handled by the Chinese government and relief organizations, the members say. So their organization is instead planning to identify and help rebuild one or more hospitals or schools destroyed in the quake.
It’s a good way to “tighten the relationship between the Chinese people and the American people,” said Chen of the Friendship Association. The state will be able to send delegations and donors there, let them see: “This is what our donors built. I can feel the stone. This is my help to China.”
Since 1982, Seattle has had a sister city relationship with Chongqing, a city in Sichuan province affected by the quake. The Seattle-Chongqing Sister City Association has established an earthquake relief fund with money to go to Red Cross of China.
At the University of Washington, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and the Chinese Student Association plan to hold a candlelight vigil Tuesday, with donations also going to Red Cross. .
“There are many people here with ties with China,” said Ruolan Liu, a CSSA vice president. “The least we can do is to help raise funds to rebuild their homes.”
Hu, the acupuncturist from Mountlake Terrace, is hearing about such losses firsthand. Her relatives’ home in Dujiangyan, a city near the quake’s epicenter, was destroyed.
Hu’s cousin’s father-in-law was sleeping when the earthquake struck and their house collapsed. Afterward, Hu’s relatives “tried to dig, but they had no tools. They couldn’t dig to find him.”
Her relatives are living in their car for now. They are grateful for what the government is doing. But they still have no electricity, water or gas, she said.
“I don’t know where to start to help them,” Hu said. “They have to start over, have to buy everything from scratch. Everything they have is destroyed.”
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff reporter Kristi Heim contributed to this report.