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Typhoon in Philippines causing angst locally

The super typhoon in the Philippines had Zosimo Garcia plenty worried Thursday night as he tried to make contact with family there.

Media reports indicate that Haiyan, a category-five super typhoon that hit the Philippines' central islands on Friday, is being called one of the worst storms ever observed. Millions of people have had to flee to safe ground or head to storm shelters.

The storm spawned 12- to 15-foot waves, tromped the islands of Leyte and Samar, and was on track to rake popular holiday destinations, according to reports from the Associated Press and other outlets.

Garcia was born in the Philippines and much of his family -- his mother as well as some of his brothers and sisters -- lives in a town about 50 miles south of the capital, Manila. He travels back home about two times a year.

"We were concerned about what's going on there, in fact we tried to contact them several times and unfortunately I couldn't get a hold of anybody there for a while," Garcia told News Center 7's Natalie Jovonovich on Thursday night. "I think the communication there is cut off in some areas."

His mother and siblings didn't evacuate, he said, because they didn't have to.

"I'm nervous, because I'm worried with what's going on, not only with the people I'm real concerned because they are telling me about landslides and also the devastation that will happen to the crops and so forth," Garcia said.

"Our town is just like surrounded by mountains so we don't get hit hard as much as other areas."

Those same media reports indicated that Haiyan is also forecast to pass close to the Philippines' second-largest city Cebu, home to about 2.5 million, and also buffet Manila.

Late Thursday night, Garcia did get in touch with a cousin. "They're hoping that by tomorrow morning it will be gone already, it will be by the sea," Garcia said.

The storm also has the Philippine-American Society of Greater Dayton worried.

"Dayton has one of the state's largest Filipino populations," said Ed Stanek, spokesman for the organization. Most of the Dayton Filipino population comes from Malina and Cebu, which is essentially directly in the storm's path, he said, noting, "Many of the women who came here are married to servicemen working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base."

Stanek said the group will be sending aid and donations soon and will be doing what it can to work with local (Philippines) groups to rebuild and redevelop.

Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert and director of meteorology at the private firm Weather Underground, told Reuters news service, "The super typhoon likely made landfall with winds near 195 mph. This makes Haiyan the strongest tropical cyclone (typhoon) on record to make landfall."

According to the state weather bureau, Haiyan is expected to pass over the Philippines late Saturday and move into the South China Sea, where it could become even stronger and threaten Vietnam or China.

-- Contributing Writer Mickey Shuey is a senior at the University of Dayton.

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