Students' Families Stuck in Aftermath of Philippines Typhoon

By Mallory Lane

Published 11/10 2013 10:35PM

Updated 11/11 2013 12:37AM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - After one of the deadliest storms rips through central Philippines, local students with family there are speaking out.

As many as 10,000 are believed dead in one Philippine city alone, after a typhoon tore through the region Friday.

Officials are calling Typhoon Haiyan one of the most devastating natural disasters in the country's history, with winds gusting up to 170 mph, and a surge causing sea waters to rise 20 feet.

But even from tens of thousands of miles away, its devastation is hitting close to home.

"It's awful. You try and put yourself in their shoes and I can't imagine what I would do," Penn State senior, Paul Aldana said.

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind for Paul and his family who live in the Philippines.

"We had a really close family friend there, I asked about him and he's pretty much just broken down," Paul said. "He hasn't been able to talk to his family."

Paul has family living in the Philippines. He says the devastation is indescribable.

"It's worse because they're already dealing with, or trying to deal with, the other earthquake that just hit," he said. "A lot of people don't realize how bad the conditions actually are."

Paul's aunt tells him even rescue workers can't get to the worst areas because of damaged roadways, mudslides and flooding.

The death toll is reaching thousands, millions of people are displaced, and Penn State sophomore, Gabrielle Pangahas, is trying to hold on to hope.

"Houses and buildings have been destroyed, hospitals have been reaching their capacity with patients and medical supplies have been running low," Gabrielle said. "People have just been searching for food and water and a safe place among the destruction. It's just been very devastating."

Gabrielle's family lives in the country's capital, Manila, just north of where the storm hit. Luckily, her and Paul's families missed the brunt of the storm.

"Because they are a developing country, they are going to need as much help as they can," she said.

That help is something Paul hopes will come from students at Penn State an others in the community.

"There's a lot of people that need help," he said.

The Penn State Filipino Association is working to organize a relief concert benefit this week.

To learn more about how you can help or make a donation to relief efforts, visit the Philippine Red Cross website.

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