By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — The typhoon that devastated the Philippines on Friday personally affected at least two area residents. The Rev. Randy Palada of the Oneonta First Baptist Church, a native of the Philippines, is collecting donations to help the disaster’s victims recover.
He said his prayers were largely answered Monday when he first heard from his family still on the island nation after the typhoon. All were safe, he said. He had been trying to reach them since the storm.
“I was so relieved,” he said. Until Monday, all he got was a busy signal.
The islands faced an unimaginably huge recovery effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.
Two officials said Sunday that Friday’s typhoon may have killed 10,000 or more people, but with the slow pace of recovery, the official death toll remained well below that. The Philippine military confirmed 942 dead, but shattered communications, transportation links and local governments indicate that the final toll will take days to be known.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said “we pray” that the death toll is less than 10,000.
Palada was born and much of his family still lives on Negros, a mountainous island. The hardest-hit area was the islands to the east, where the geography is flat, he said.
Besides being a pastor, Palada leads the area Asian-American Association. On Sunday, both groups will have a Thanksgiving dinner and talk about ways to raise money for disaster relief. He will be talking with area clergy about coordinating the effort. He was glad the United States government is sending assistance for recovery.
Francine Mattiace, a teller at Community Bank on Oneonta’s Southside, has a brother ewho lives on the hard-hit island of Leyte. She has been in contact with a sister who lives in an area not so badly damaged. Her brother and his family have lost their home and belongings, but are safe.
“Thank god,” she said when she learned he had recently contacted her sister. “I kept calling and calling,” she said. Prayers are the “number one” way to help, and if anyone can offer more, she would encourage that.
People who want to help should “pray for the people,” Palada said, and if they want a more tangible way, they can contact him and send donations to the church. He can be reached at the church at 432-2432, or his home at 783-2044.
Anyone wanting to make a donation can send checks marked “Philippine Typhoon Relief” made out to First Baptist Church, 71 Chestnut St.*, Oneonta, N.Y. 13820.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
*Editor's note: The address of the church was corrected at 10 a.m. Nov. 12.