Filipino-Americans try to contact family in typhoon-devastated regions

Jackie Duerr turned to Facebook to find out what happened to her relatives in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. CBS

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- Desperate to track down her family in her hometown of Tacloban in the typhoon-devastated Philippines, Jackie Duerr turned to Facebook. That's how she found out what her 78-year-old mother did to save their lives.

Jackie Duerr turned to Facebook to find out what happened to her relatives in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.
CBS

Jackie Duerr is collecting money and supplies to aid typhoon survivors in her hometown of Tacloban in the Philippines.
Jackie Duerr is collecting money and supplies to aid typhoon survivors in her hometown of Tacloban in the Philippines.
CBS News

"My mother and my younger sister were holding on to a refrigerator floating around in muck for 45 minutes. They put the young children inside the refrigerator," Duerr said.

By using the refrigerator as a boat, Duerr's family survived. But they have lost everything. Like many other Filipino-Americans, she is collecting emergency supplies and raising money.

"We direly need help," she said. "This is for real. This is hell."

Across America, people are doing what they can to help - from donating supplies at a car dealership in San Bruno, Calif., to making cash donations in the section of Jersey City, N.J., known as Little Manila.

Matt Pelak is one of the leaders of a group of military veterans who are planning to do relief work in the Philippines.
Matt Pelak is one of the leaders of a group of military veterans who are planning to do relief work in the Philippines.
CBS News

Military veterans from Los Angeles are forming and rescue teams. Matt Pelak is one of the leaders.

"Tools, saws, flashlights, sleeping bags, you name it," he said, listing the equipment the volunteers are bringing with them. "And it's all got to go on our backs."

Call centers are trying to put people in the United States in touch with family members in the Philippines.

But thousands remain missing, including Duerr's little brother.

"We have not heard from him so we are trying very much to find him," Duerr said, adding that the she is also concerned about the brother's family.

Duerr's son boarded a plane for Manila with a load of supplies. Once he arrives in the Philippine capital, he plans to drive to the devastated city of Tacloban. But after hearing stories of aid convoys being robbed on the way to the city, the younger Duerr is afraid for his safety.

  • Don Dahler

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