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Philippines Native Hasn't Heard From Family



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Officials estimate up to 10,000 people could be dead in central Philippines after one of the strongest storms on record to make landfall hit the Pacific island country. For one Sioux Falls woman, she has no idea if her family members are alive.

Ida Johnson has been calling her family nonstop since typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on Friday. She said her family's phones finally started ringing today, but after a few tones the line was disconnected.  So for a third day, she is left hoping they are OK and alive.

Johnson said, "I've been really sad, and it's just been really overwhelming."

The only connection Philippines native Johnson has to her family is a photo album full of pictures from her last trip home seven years ago.

 "I don't know where all of the people are anymore. Their phones don't work, the lines for the computers, and they don't have electric," Johnson said.
  
 Before Johnson moved to Sioux Falls 23 years ago, she lived in Taft, Eastern Samar, which sits around 3.5 hours north of Tacloban, where typhoon Haiyan hit. Most of her family still lives in Taft, but a few reside in the devastated city of Tacloban. Johnson said she feels helpless because she can't help her family if they need it.

Johnson said, "I can't even think, my mind is nowhere."
           
As she works at the grocery store she owns in Sioux Falls, thousands of miles away, she said seeing all of this devastation is frightening, mostly because she doesn't know if her family's home lies amongst the rubble too. She said the houses are made of wood or cement, with tin roofs and normally are constructed by family's themselves.

"But I don't know how strong they (the homes) are, and it's scary," Johnson said.

For now though, Johnson waits to hear a familiar voice on the other end of the line so she can say one thing.
 
 "Oh, I'll probably say, 'Thank God you are OK," Johnson said.

Johnson said this time of year farmers are harvesting their rice crop, which for many is now washed away.  She said now not only do people have no place to live, but their main source of food may be gone too.  

Typhoon Haiyan affected 9.5 million people, and displaced at least 600,000.
     


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