Typhoon Haiyan has left multiple Filipino families in Northwest Arkansas wondering if their loved ones made it out alive. It’s estimated an average of 200 Filipinos live in the region.
University of Arkansas graduate student Reio Salas is constantly checking social media since Typhoon Haiyan cutoff communication.
“I’m just relying on any updates on Facebook,” Salas said.
Her mother Rosario Salas, 50, her father Felix, 51 and her youngest brother Johnreil, 19, were evacuated. The family lives in Visca Baybay in the Central Philippines, which is one of the hardest hit areas.
“We are worried because we cannot contact them and it’s been more than 24 hours,” Salas said.
Salas said she has tried her family’s phone about 100 times with the hope someone will answer.
“I hope they are fine and that they have food and water,” Salas said.
Salas checks a Facebook page created for the people who live in Central Philippines to get updates. She can’t believe Typhoon Haiyan left so much destruction.
“I cannot recognize the place because the trees are everywhere, they are on the street and there’s no more roofs on the houses,” Salas said.
Rebecca Chavez owns the Filipino Store on Pleasant St. in Springdale called Manna Oriental Market.
“The Filipinos who come here, I always ask them, ‘do you have friends or family in the direct path of the storm?’” Chavez said.
Chavez moved from Camarines Sur in the Philippines to Fayetteville more than 20 years ago. She said the Philippines has about 20 typhoons a year but nothing compares to the strength of this one.
“It’s really sad, devastating is the kind of word we can use to describe everything,” Chavez said.
Chavez’s son Jonathan is in the Philippines and she was worried about him until she saw news on social media that he was OK. However, she also hasn’t been able to contact him.
In the meantime, the local Filipino community is helping each other cope after the super typhoon.
“All we can do is pray for our families and friends back home,” Chavez said.
As for Salas, she said she just wants to hear her parents’ and brother’s voices.
“I love you very much,” Salas said. “I hope you are OK there and hope to see you again.”
The Northwest Arkansas Filipino American Association plans to send care packages to the Philippines.
Click here for people looking for loved ones in the Philippines. The Red Cross has a form to fill out.