BRITISH COLUMBIA

Philippines Typhoon 2013: Metro Vancouver Filipino-Canadians Rally To Help Victims

11/11/2013 04:23 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST
AP
Destroyed houses lie in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. The city remains littered with debris from damaged homes as many complain of shortages of food and water and no electricity since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into their province. Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, slammed into six central Philippine islands on Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and scores of people dead. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
VANCOUVER - Even amid fears for the safety of his own family in the Philippines, Pastor Levi Estores tries to encourage members of his congregation in Vancouver not to lose hope for their loved ones caught in last week's deadly typhoon.

“As a pastor, you have to comfort your people but this time, it’s quite difficult to comfort them when you yourself need comfort,” he said on Monday. “You're ministering while you're in pain, but anyway, the best thing we can do at this time is trust in God.”

Power and communications have been severed in the areas worst hit by the deadly storm. Estores, with the Vancouver Filipino Seventh Day Adventist Church, has been trying for three days to reach his mother, sister, and two brothers who live in the province of Capiz.

Before communications went down, Estores received a message through Facebook that the home of one of his brothers, who had his eight children, had been destroyed as the raging storm tore through his hometown.

Because Estores has been unable to contact his family and friends, the television and online images of collapsed houses and uprooted trees have only added to the 57-year-old pastor's sense of despair.

"You're so unsure, you do not know what's happening to your loved ones, whether they have food or clothing or shelter," Estores said. "It's quite difficult to do guesswork in your mind without knowing what's happening there."

Typhoon Haiyan, believed to be the deadliest natural disaster to hit the Philippines, has claimed the lives of at least 942 people, according to the Philippine military.

The storm hit last Friday, but its devastating impact has yet to be tallied and as many as 10,000 people are feared dead.

In Vancouver, Estores's church is collecting donations for relief efforts. A fundraising concert organized by a local television host will also take place in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday night.

Nellie Vandt, who has family living in the storm-devastated city of Tacloban, helped put together the concert, where all proceeds will be given to the Canadian Red Cross. Vandt said many people are impatient to help typhoon victims.

"As we speak, people are dying," she said. "It doesn't matter who you are, if you're Catholic or Sikh...help is coming from all over."

The Canadian government has pledged $5 million in disaster relief and offered to match Canadian donations dollar for dollar. Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team, which specializes in basic medical care, water purification, basic infrastructure repairs and streamlining communications systems, is also being sent to the Philippines.

Also on HuffPost

Typhoon Haiyan (WARNING: GRAPHIC)