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Bethel Filipinos reach out to families affected by typhoon

Woman's father among casualties

Posted: November 17, 2013 - 1:10am

BETHEL — Members of Bethel’s small Filipino population are reaching out to their families back home following the deadly typhoon that left scores of people dead.

A relief fundraiser for people affected by the typhoon is scheduled to be held between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Catholic Social Hall in Bethel, KYUK (http://is.gd/cmsYBb) reported.

Guada Thatcher, who is among 30 Filipinos living in Bethel, said her father died in the storm when it collapsed his Bantayan Island house on top of him. Thatcher wants to make funeral arrangements, but there’s no infrastructure in place.

But she said she’s left with this thought: “He died a hero, though,” Thatcher said. “He saved his wife, my stepmom’s life.”

Other relatives of Thatcher live in Cebu Province. They survived with only property damage.

“It’s hard to call them, especially the signal over there,” Thatcher said. “So it’s very hard to keep in touch with your family back home.”

Glenda Swope’s family survived when the typhoon hit Cebu Province. She said that as she spoke with her sister on the phone, she could hear the typhoon.

“It sounded like a jet. Like a jet that is going to, you know, explode,” Swope said.

Swope said the worst of the storm hit at low tide during the day. Her parents also had covered their windows with plywood and their roof with sandbags.

But not everyone can afford such preparations. Many in the Philippines live in poverty, with some homes having grass roofs.

Her hometown of Lapu-Lapu City also is overcrowded. It is about the same size as Bethel, but with a population of almost 300,000, compared with Bethel’s population of just over 6,000.

Swope and others in Bethel’s Filipino community worry about the victims getting the food and water they need and about emergency goods being distributed. The Bethel residents are doing what they can right now by holding a fundraiser this weekend.

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