MUNSTER | As officials assess the devastation from a powerful typhoon that slammed the Philippines, a Munster doctor is scrambling to raise funds to help his native country.
Dr. Philip Chua is the chairman of the Filipino United Network that is working to raise funds for victims of the typhoon. He said the national organization has raised close to half a million pesos, which is about $12,000.
Chua said most of his family lives in the United States, but he has some friends who live in Cebu. He said he has spoken to his friends and all reported they were fine.
Tacloban was the city most heavily affected by the typhoon, with some police officials estimating the death toll could be as high as 10,000. As of Wednesday, officials had confirmed 2,344 deaths.
About 600,000 people have been displaced since the typhoon hit and there are reports of overcrowding at hospitals.
U.S. officials have sent 307 troops to help with the disaster relief, but the number of troops is expected to increase to more than 1,000 after Marines stationed in Japan depart to the country.
There have been reports of desperate residents who resorted to looting and raiding businesses for food.
Randy McCambridge, a graduate of Bishop Noll Institute, is in the Philippines as an independent scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks. McCambridge said he plans to stay until December to help with relief efforts.
"I have been through several hurricanes while living in Hawaii, but this was unreal," he said. "Cars flipping over in the wind and people dying in the streets."
Ron Karczewski, who is originally from Highland, lives in Cebu, where he owns a rock climbing and cave exploring company. Karczewski said in an email that he experienced winds of 90 mph when the typhoon hit the country.
He said his community sustained minor damage compared with other parts of the Philippines. He said the local hospital is overcrowded and electricity in the city is sporadic.
Chua said the news reports from the Philippines have been terrible.
"These people are helpless," he said. "While we are doing well here, they don't have any places to go."
Chua said the funds raised through the Filipino United Network are deposited to a local bank in the Philippines. The money is then distributed through a local commission that works with civic organizations.
He said the best way to donate money is to visit the website www.FUN8888.com.