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Central New Yorkers scramble to help family in Philippines

The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan has climbed to more than 5,000 people and thousands more are still missing in the Philippines.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan has climbed to more than 5,000 people and thousands more are still missing in the Philippines.

Though the typhoon hit thousands of miles away, it hit home for some Central New Yorkers like Rosalia Modesto who grew up in the Philippines.

"They don't have running water right now. They don't have electricity. They don't have a signal,” Modesto said. “Everything got wiped out, houses...most of the houses, and their livelihood, everything."

With the lines of communication wiped out by the storm, many like Modesto in the U.S. are desperately trying to help their loved ones overseas.


Modesto was told her niece was swept away by the third surge of waves, while trying to save her family. The storm left Modesto's father disoriented and he disappeared for days.

"My grandfather is living under a table. He's still in the same clothes he was in the day of the storm. He didn't have water or food for a week," said Gina Johns, Modesto’s daughter who is helping to fundraise for her family in the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms every recorded in history and has left thousands without basic supplies.

Johns has scrambled to gather supplies, reaching out to friends in the US for help, among them a Syracuse police officer whose mother grew up in the Philippines.

Andrew Rawson asked his fellow officers on the third shift for a little help and they delivered.

"Everyday I would show up and there would be just a mountain of clothes. It surprised me everyday,” Rawson said. “I didn't expect that at all. I thought maybe one, two bags at most and we ended up with maybe 10 boxes of clothes."

112 toothbrushes, 600 bandages, 119 bars of soap and 117 pairs of socks were gathered to offer a little relief for a local family still waiting to find out how many of their relatives survived.

"It really lifts my spirit up in a way that a lot of people are trying so hard to help,” Modesto said.

"Everybody here is dying to go see a $25 IMAX movie or wanting to go try a new restaurant at the mall that is $65 a plate, when there are people in other countries who haven't eaten in weeks,” Johns said. “It really makes you look at life completely differently."

Modesto plans to pay to mail all of the supplies herself. If you'd like to help, donations can be dropped off in Hanover Square at:

World Lounge and Martini Bar of Syracuse
134 E Genesee St.
Syracuse, NY 13202

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