ROCHESTER, Wash. -- For three days, Dianna Schneider has been waiting for word from her brother Gregg Anderson, who flew to the Philippines early last week for a 50th birthday trip. On Monday, she learned that her brother sent an email to his work Thursday, saying, "I am going to Samar."
That is good news. The Samar province is north of the area hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan, and likely where tourists and residents would have been evacuated.
“My phone is in my hand constantly. I look to see if I can see his face on the TV. He is a very strong person and is very fit and I know he is one that would just jump in and help out,” Schneider said.
Anderson, a Kirkland mortgage broker, arrived in Tacloban on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 5. He was supposed to then drive by car east two hours to Guiuan to a beach villa.
“He was excited to go and stay on the beach and fish with his friend and have a wonderful time,” said Schneider.
Both Tacloban and Guiuan were devastated by the typhoon with 1,200 confirmed dead and estimates as high as 10,000 dead.
“When you don’t know what’s happening out there you feel helpless,” said Sheila Burrus, director of the Filipino Community Center of Seattle.
Members of the Filipino community are also waiting to hear whether their relatives are OK. Cory Ocana watched news from the Philippines inside the community center and is waiting to hear from her mother, brothers and sisters who still live there.
“All the houses are wiped out. There is no food, no medications or water. It’s really difficult and I am not at ease at all,” said Ocana.
Cell phone towers were destroyed in the storm, but service was starting to be restored Monday. So, for now, Schneider will keep her phone in hand, just waiting for that call.
“He wanted something unbelievable for his birthday. The best birthday present he could ever get is just to be able to get home,” said Schneider.
The Filipino Community Center is working with officials overseas to gather a list of survivors and plans to post it to its website, which you can find here.
Comcast is now making the Filipino Channel available free to customers in Washington state through next Monday, Nov. 18. The channel is available on Xfinity TV channel 241.