NEW ORLEANS - For Sheila Lumod, the last 48 hours have been agonizing.
“It’s really devastating,” said Lumod. “It made me so depressed.”
The Edna Karr High School teacher is a native of the Philippines.
Her mother and three children were staying at a hotel in Tacloban City, one of the hardest hit areas of the Philippines. Up to 10,000 people are believed dead there in the aftermath of Typhoon Hiayan.
Lumod has yet to hear from her family.
“That's my only wish is that I could just know whether it's good or bad,” said Lumod. “I just want to know where they are right now.”
Lumod has learned the typhoon destroyed her mother's home in the town of Dulag, Leyte. Lumod believes some of her relatives may already be dead.
“I know that the rest of my cousins, I know they didn't make it because they were in the low lying area.”
The Philippines has seen its share of natural disasters. But Lumod said storm surges like the one that ravaged Tacloban City are unheard of in the Philippines.
Debris is blocking roadways, and it is difficult to reach some of the survivors.
“There is no food. They have not been eating for a few days, they don't have any water,” said Lumod.
And that's where local relief efforts come in. Christina Quackenbush heads the pop-up Filipino restaurant Milkfish at 870 Tchoupitoulas Street in the CBD. She's donating 15 percent of Sunday’s sales to the Philippine Red Cross.
“To have 10,000 dead in one town and to see the pictures and the devastation and everything, and us being from a coastal area we know how that can be,” said Quackenbush, who also has family in the Philippines.
And as the locals rally around the Filipino community, Lumod prays her family is safe after one of the deadliest disasters in the country’s history.
“I really wish this very moment that I could be there to help find out where they are,” she said.
If you would like to donate directly to relief efforts, you can do so through several organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, which already has boots on the ground, click here.