North Texas Man Concerned About Storm-Ravaged Philippines - - No One Gets You Closer

North Texas Man Concerned About Storm-Ravaged Philippines


DURANT, OK -- A North Texas man is sharing his story while his family battles the devastation left behind by a hurricane.

The death toll in the Philippines is still shifting as damage is assessed. Today at an event held at the Choctaw Casino, we found one man who's following the developments very closely.

It's the church where he was baptized. Now Grand Prairie resident John Panares looks at a picture of it  still standing, while much of his hometown in the Philippines that surrounds it is in ruins.

"Until now I haven't spoken to my mom and my sister yet," says Panares, who is from the Philippines. "There's no communications yet and all I have is from my brother."

His brother sent pictures of the devastation left behind by what's known there as Typhoon Yolanda, which is internationally known as Typhoon Haiyan. "Our roof is damaged, but that's easy to fix," says Panares.

Panares says his brother tells him that his family is alright,but several neighbors weren't as lucky. "Some injured and they broke their legs and there's people that were hit by debris falling from walls," says Panares.

"It really hit the four major cities in the Visayan region. Bogo, Cebu, Iloilo, and Tacloban," says Dallas resident Carol Smith.

Smith says even though she is not from the exact area of the Philippines that was hit by the storm, she is still trying to raise money to send to the American Red Cross to help those who were affected.

"I have here a basket and I pass it around and people drop in dollars to help for the typhoon," says Smith. "Some lost their houses, some are still under medical care right now, and some are still missing."

On Saturday, hundreds from the Dallas area took part in the first Asian Extravaganza event held here. "It helps the students to gain more experience to learn more about the culture and share it with everyone," says Charman Aiwohi, one of the organizers.

Meanwhile, Panares says his thoughts are only of what's happening back home. "I wish I was there. I'm a mountaineer, a rescue team member myself back home, and I wish I am there to give help to my brother to do this rescue operations with him."

Panares says his brother is doing his own rescue efforts and a French rescue team has also reached the area. He sings and was planning to hold a concert at a Dallas event hall on Saturday night to try to raise more money.