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Canada’s Filipino community comes together to aid typhoon victims

VIDEO: Officials fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead in one Philippine city alone following typhoon Haiyan. Tom Windebank of the Canadian Red Cross talks about the relief efforts in the region and the challenges aid workers face in these conditions.

  • Canadians needing urgent consular help following Typhoon Haiyan can email sos@international.gc.ca or call collect 613-996-8885.
  • Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations here: http://www.redcross.ca/typhoon
  • Shaw Communications has opened Filipino channels TFC and FTV for viewing without subscription, and all long-distance calls to the Philippines will be offered to all customers at no additional cost until further notice.

TORONTO – Canada’s Filipino community is cobbling together resources to send to the Philippines as many people frantically try to contact friends and loved ones missing in what appears to be the country’s deadliest storm yet.

As prayers went out Sunday for survivors of typhoon Haiyan, plans were also being quickly drawn up to send over assistance to the hardest-hit areas.

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Rev. Ben Ebcas Jr. told rows of concerned congregants at his midtown Toronto church his fears about his two brothers who are missing on Leyte Island, which saw some of the worst of the storm.

“It’s sad and it’s difficult. I couldn’t sleep, but we have to pray for one another,” he said after mass, fighting back tears.]

Read more: Typhoon Haiyan leaves up to 10,000 dead in Philippines

Officials fear as many as 10,000 people may be dead in one Philippine city alone, and officials say the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach areas cut off by flooding and landslides.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government is considering activating the Disaster Assistance Response Team to help typhoon victims. The DART is largely a military team that can provide a variety of services such as emergency medical care and clean water. An advance team of officials has been sent to the Philippines to assess whether the DART should be deployed, Baird said Sunday.

As news of the damage continued to worsen, a number of Canadian churches drew together groups of people eager to help support victims of the typhoon in some way.

Watch: Parts of the Central Philippines are in ruins a day after one of the most powerful storms on record slammed into the island nation. Paul Johnson reports.

Ebcas, who witnessed the previous deadliest Philippine storm 22 years ago, urged his congregation to contribute whatever they could to a parish fundraising effort.

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“What we need is quick response. Financial assistance will be the number one way of helping our people,” he told reporters outside the Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Parish.

The storm has severed telephone links to many areas, leaving many Canadian Filipinos distressed over what has become of their relatives.

“There is so much to worry about because we cannot communicate with our family back home,” said Toronto resident Josephine Herrera, who came to Canada in 2002.

Survivors pass by two large boats after they were washed ashore by strong waves caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
A resident looks at houses damaged by typhoon Haiyan, in Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, are seen Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Tacloban city, Leyte province in central Philippines. AP Photo/Toti Navales
Philppine police commandoes prepare to board a C-130 military plane in Manila on November 10, 2013 heading to the typhoon devastated city of Tacloban. T. JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
Residents walk past debris and destroyed houses along a road in Tacloban City, Leyte province, central Philippines on November 10, 2013. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Residents push an improvised trolley loaded with an injured relative as they head for a medical station in Tacloban City, Leyte province,central Philippines on November 10, 2013. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
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Residents stand under a shelter surrounded by pile of debris washed inland along a road in Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on November 10, 2013, three days after devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the city on November 8. The death toll from a super typhoon that decimated entire towns in the Philippines could soar well over 10,000, authorities warned on November 10, making it the country's worst recorded natural disaster. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
A resident who survived Typhoon Haiyan cries inside a stadium used as an evacuation centre in Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on November 10, 2013. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Resident carry looted goods in Tacloban City, Leyte province, central Philippines on November 10, 2013, three days after devastating Typhoon Haiyan hit the city on November 8. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Residents scramble for looted goods in Tacloban City, central Philippines on November 10, 2013. TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images
Residents carry furniture taken from a hotel in Palo, eastern island of Leyte on November 10, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
Residents carry a mattres taken from a hotel in Palo, eastern island of Leyte on November 10, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
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Residents cross a collapsed highway caused by the storm surge in Palo, eastern island of Leyte on November 10, 2013, three days after devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the area on November 8. The death toll from a super typhoon that decimated entire towns in the Philippines could soar well over 10,000, authorities warned on November 10, making it the country's worst recorded natural disaster. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
Soldiers help to reinforce a house in preparation for the arrival of the super typhoone Haiyan at a village in the central province of Quang Tri on November 9, 2013. Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images
Local Red Cross staff place sand bags on the roof of a house as they prepare for the arrival of super typhoon Haiyan, at a quarter in the central provincial coastal city of Danang on November 9, 2013. STR/AFP/Getty Images
Soldiers and workers reinforce a sea dyke in the central province of Phu Yen on November 9, 2013. Vietnam has started evacuating over 100,000 people from the path of Super Typhoon Haiyan, state media said on November 9, 2013, after the storm tore across the Philippines leaving scores dead and devastating communities. Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images
People place sand bags on a house roof in preparation for the arrival of the super typhoon Haiyan in the central province of Quang Nam on November 9, 2013. Vietnam has started evacuating over 100,000 people from the path of Super Typhoon Haiyan, state media said on November 9, 2013, after the storm tore across the Philippines leaving scores dead and devastating communities. STR/AFP/Getty Images
Residents prepare sand bags to reinforce a sea dyke in the central province of Phu Yen on November 9, 2013. Vietnam has started evacuating over 100,000 people from the path of Super Typhoon Haiyan, state media said on November 9, 2013, after the storm tore across the Philippines leaving scores dead and devastating communities. Vietnam News Agency/AFP/Getty Images
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This image provided by NASA shows Typhoon Haiyan taken by Astronaut Karen L. Nyberg aboard the International Space Station Saturday Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/NASA, Karen L. Nyberg
Residents sit outside their damaged house after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
In this Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 image made from ABS-CBN video, a man carries a child through the debris in Leyte, Philippines, as typhoon Haiyan ripped through the region. AP Photo/ABS-CBN via AP Video
In this Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, image made from ABS-CBN video, children take a shelter at a school in Leyte, Philippines, as typhoon Haiyan ripped through the region. AP Photo/ABS-CBN via AP Video
People walk among debris of fallen tress at Tacloban airport in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
Rescue workers carry a woman about to give birth at a makeshift Department of Health (DOH) medical center at the Tacloban airport in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
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A resident passes by toppled car outside an airport terminal after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
A resident walks by remains of houses after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
A woman mournes her dead son at a chapel in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
Residents return to their houses after leaving an evacuation site in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
Residents walk past debris of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
An aerial shot shows a flooded area in the aftermath of Supper Typhoon Haiyan that smashed into coastal communities on the central Philippines in Iloilo on November 9, 2013. RAUL BANIAS/AFP/Getty Images
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People stay outside the remains of a damaged airport terminal after powerful Typhoon Haiyan slammed into Tacloban city, Leyte province central Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
Residents try to seek shelter with their belongings following a powerful typhoon that hit Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
A woman stands amidst the devastation brought about by powerful Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban city, in Leyte province, central Philippines Saturday Nov. 9, 2013. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
A man (C) walks among debris of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images
An aerial shot shows devastation in the aftermath in the aftermath of Supper Typhoon Haiyan that smashed into coastal communities on the central Philippines in Iloilo on November 9, 2013. RAUL BANIAS/AFP/Getty Images
Women walk past fallen trees and destroyed houses in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, eastern island of Leyte on November 9, 2013. NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

She said her family home had been damaged and her two sisters were stranded in a central island city, cut off from their children in an area walloped by the fierce storm.

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“At this very moment I want to do everything I cannot do because I am far away from them,” Herrera said anxiously.

Power has yet to be restored after the typhoon unleashed ferocious winds and giant waves that washed away homes and schools.

Read more: Canada expresses sympathy to Typhoon Haiyan victims

Minister of International Development Christian Paradis announced Sunday that Ottawa will match each dollar of typhoon aid donated by Canadians to registered charities. The government earlier said it would contribute as much as $5 million to support humanitarian organizations helping typhoon victims.

A massive relief operation is already underway, with some Canadian organizations sending teams to the Philippines.

Read more: Canadian charity works to help Typhoon Haiyan victims

A four-person rapid response Global Medic crew left Toronto for the Philippines on Sunday, taking with it water purification units and other supplies.

Spokesman Andrew Budziak said the team is going to the devastated central islands with little heads-up knowledge of the scene they’ll find on the ground.

“It’s so hard, even for people in the Philippines, to get an idea of what’s going on,” he said.

“We’re hearing reports of mass graves. But there are still areas in the country that nobody’s been able to reach.”

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Meanwhile, Jessie Thomson, the director of CARE Canada’s humanitarian assistance and emergency team said his organization plans to provide immediate essentials like shelter, water and food to communities that have lost everything.

Typhoon Haiyan raced across the eastern and central Philippines this weekend, inflicting serious damage to at least six of the archipelago’s more than 7,000 islands.

Read more: Why Super Typhoon Haiyan was so destructive

It weakened as it crossed the South China Sea before approaching northern Vietnam, where it was forecast to hit land either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Canadians needing urgent consular help following Typhoon Haiyan can email sos(at)international.gc.ca or call collect 613-996-8885.

– With files from Diana Mehta

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