PLATTSBURGH — Mooers residents Art and Norma Menard quietly collect donations from family and friends to send to Typhoon Haiyan victims in her hometown.
She grew up in of Dueñas, Iloilo Province, located in the Western Visayas of the Philippine Islands.
“We’re two islands west of Tcloban City, that was badly hit, that was devastated by the typhoon,” said Norma, who is the executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Clinton County.
She and her husband met in 1973 while working for the Peace Corps.
Facebook is the primary communication platform between Norma and her nieces, nephews, two brothers and sister.
“I have not been able to get through by cellphone because the connection is intermittent,” Norma said this week. “There are just a lot of interruptions.”
Her niece Lilibeth Vallejo updates Facebook regularly.
“She’s a nurse and works in the city,” Norma said. “Her mother is a school teacher in my hometown. My sister-in-law, Elena, has been helping with emergency operations at the evacuation center.”
MOVED BEFORE STORM
In all, 142 families were evacuated to Dueñas Elementary and High School, Norma’s alma mater.
“People have been helping each other,” she said. “I think there are two reported casualties in my hometown. I don’t know the circumstances. But for the most part, it was kept to a minimum because they evacuated two days before the storm.”
On the Weather Channel, Art tracked the typhoon warnings issued near Palau a week ago.
“I remember Hurricane Mitch,” said Art, a retired Northeastern Clinton Central School math teacher. “I remember Hurricane Andrew. I remember Hurricane Katrina and what it looked like on radar.
“I said, ‘Norma, that’s going to be it. It’s going to hit us, and all we can do is pray.’ You could see it, and there was nothing you could do. It was going to go where it was going to go.