TAMPA, Fla. - As rescuers rush to remote areas of the Philippines trying to help survivors of the strongest tropical cyclone ever hit to land, local Filipino Americans are in anguish over the fate of their loved ones 9,000 miles away.
Roque Barrido's brothers, sisters and mother live within the Typhoon Haiyan - a super storm meteorologists believe could be the strongest ever recorded.
"I cannot contact my family over there. The whole night I was not able to sleep last night," said Barrido, board chairman of the Philippine Cultural Foundation near Westchase.
Barrido and thousands of other Filipino Americans in the Bay Area have been watching the images coming in from the central islands. But with no direct contact with family and friends, there's no way to tell how badly they've been hit.
The region around Cebu is still recovering from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit October 15th and killed over 170 people. Many of the homeless survivors are now facing what the locals call Typhoon "Yolanda," with wind gusts near 200 miles per hour.
"They are living in the tents right now. When they come back inside the building with cracked windows and walls, they're afraid of the 195 mile per hour winds are going to hit that wall and probably collapse on them," said Barrido.
The Philippine Cultural Foundation recently held a costume ball that raised $20,000 dollars for the earthquake victims. And they've collected money for two other typhoons since September.
"We are exhausted already. We've been fundraising and fundraising just to help over there," said Barrido.
That's why Roque Barrido hopes the magnitude of this storm inspires the entire Bay Area community to help a country that has had a very bad year.
If you wish to help, contact the Philippine Cultural Foundation through their website at: http://www.pcfitampa.org/ or by phone: (813) 925-1232.
Or go to the website of Gawa Kalinga: http://www.gk1world.com/ .