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North Bay seeks to help typhoon victims in the Philippines

  • Survivors move past the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Monday. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the deadly storm that ravaged the Philippines over the weekend, North Bay Filipino-Americans scrambled to get in touch with loved ones, donate money and supplies and reflect on the devastation in their homeland.

The Filipino-American Community of Sonoma County, a Fulton nonprofit that represents the 7,000 local Filipinos, met with American Red Cross leaders Sunday to coordinate disaster relief efforts, board member Lee Cachola said.

“Filipinos love their country,” she said. “We have a close knit group of people here. If one family is in trouble, all families get involved.”

The American Red Cross needs cash donations, which can be made at redcross.org or 1-800-Red-Cross, said Kristie Fry, regional communications officer. The organization has also set up a call center that will help local Filipinos locate and connect with loved ones in the Philippines. That number is 707-577-7610.

“For this disaster, we don't take in-kind gifts,” Fry said. “Monetary donations will support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the typhoons and floods in the Philippines.”

Miriam Arga, 47, who has lived in Santa Rosa for 12 years, said her mother and brothers were displaced when the typhoon flattened their house. She said she feels powerless watching the news coverage of her homeland.

“We can't do anything here,” she said. “Sometimes I can't even watch the news anymore. I cry. It's really sad.”

Father Alvin Villaruel, the Filipino-American pastor at St. Mary of the Angels church in Ukiah, said that some parishioners with family in the Philippines lost property but not loved ones in the storm.

For the past nine years, Villaruel has led community service trips to the Philippines for Cardinal Newman High School students, and he said next year's trip may be focused on the typhoon-ravaged region. His church will be raising money for disaster relief, he said.

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