08/11/2012 03:26 EDT | Updated 10/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Vancouver Filipino community rallies around flood victims

Members of the Lower Mainland Filipino community are banding together to help those affected by massive flooding in Manila.

A monsoon hit the country last week, leaving an estimated 60 people dead. More than half of the city was submerged at the peak of the floods.

As the rescue crews in Manila turn towards clearing the muck and debris that litters the city, the Vancouver-based Multicultural Helping House Society is working to coordinate local efforts aimed at supporting relief in the Philippines.

Sammie Jo Rumbaua says almost everyone in Vancouver’s Filipino community knows someone affected by the flooding.

"My family, they are in the city," Rumbaua said. "They're all okay, the water is basically shoulder height — with that it's really just lifting all their belongings to higher level."

'The worst of its kind'

The society held an emergency meeting Friday to coordinate a collection drive.

"We are used to all these calamities, but this is the worst of its kind," said president and CEO Tom Avendano. "We are almost at a loss for how to help people because it is so wide."

Gary Lising, also with the Multicultural Helping House Society, is hoping people will reflect on their experiences coming to a new land and consider aid for people in Manila.

"Remember the time you came to this country — you had the opportunity to blossom and bloom," he said. "This is the chance for you to help them blossom and bloom, someone back home in the Philippines."

The group is starting its donation drive this weekend. They’re looking for donations of canned food, clothing and cash which will be distributed to those in need through the Red Cross.

Anyone who wants to donate is asked to contact the Multicultural Helping House Society.