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Local residents anxious for word from families in Philippines

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 08 2013 04:32:38 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 08 2013 05:14:17 PM CST

A super typhoon, possibly the strongest storm ever, pummeled the Philippines and forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes Friday.

BLANDON, Pa. -

A super typhoon, possibly the strongest storm ever, pummeled the Philippines, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes Friday.

Super Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread damage, but the country avoided a major disaster because the storm quickly blew away, said officials.

Four people have been confirmed dead, but that number is expected to climb.

"I just closed my eyes because it's so devastating to see what's going on in my own country and I can't do anything," said Gracie Weichert, who was born in the Phillipines.

Weichert spent Friday glued to the TV inside her Blandon, Berks Co., home. Most of her family still lives where the monster storm hit.

"We don't know what's going on out there we have no contact. It's hard because they don't have any type of communication. There's no electric now, so it's very scary," Weichert said.

It's possibly the strongest tropical cyclone on earth to make landfall. Some 25 million people were in the storm's path as it plowed across the Philippines early Friday morning. It flooded streets and caused land slides and a tsunami-level storm surge.

"For the poor people and the homeless people, they have nothing already, and they're going to get their nothing destroyed right now," said Danielle Weber, who visited the Philippines four months ago.

Weber is from Oley, Berks Co., but she traveled far in July with Samaritan's Purse to hand out Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for needy children. She feared the storm's more than 200 mph gusts destroyed everything.

"If it's anything like where I was, it's going to be absolutely devastating because the people are not living in structures that will sustain those winds," said Weber.

The country has been battered by natural disasters before, but Weichert, who has been through a typhoon before, feared this is the worst.

"I got tears in my eyes praying to God they're all safe there," Weichert said.