"It is sad. I can't imagine how we can rehabilitate the whole town," Garcia said, "but I guess Filipinos are very resilient, so we will be OK, I hope."

Florendo, 52, who has extended family in the Philippines, said social media websites have been critical for getting in touch with family in recent days.

"Unfortunately, some of our friends and family have perished, but at least through these sites, it's a little bit more comforting to know at least there is an avenue" to try to communicate, he said.

Some parts of the country are so devastated that victims can't be reached from the outside, he said.

Florendo said his aunt has yet to reach her first cousin's family. In Filipino culture, he said, "our extended family is really very much like our immediate family," so almost everyone is feeling a personal toll from the storm.

"Sometimes with the enormity of something like this, you think, 'What can I do?'" he said.

Having so many Filipinos in the Baltimore area rallying together has given him and others hope, he said.

"We should not stop trying to help. Whatever we do now, we can still do more, because this is such a long-term impact," he said. "It's unfathomable to think something this horrible could happen, and so we just have to work hard on our empathy."

Neumeier is grateful her family is alive — though a cousin is still missing in Tacloban — but they are "not OK," she said. The family's farm was flooded and destroyed, and 80 percent of the town was flattened, she said.

"There's no market, no government, no schools," she said.

She said she hopes the relief support will be enough to help not only the larger cities, but also the smaller towns like Sara, where she was born, and its neighbors: Ajuy and Concepcion, Lemery and San Dionisio.

Every town deserves to be remembered as help arrives, she said.

"I'm trying to be the voice of the people who have no resources at all."

Tribune newspapers and Reuters contributed to this article.



Want to help?

Visit the Red Cross at RedCross.org and follow the link for the Philippines.

Local groups are organizing their aid efforts still but you can visit their websites:

•Katipunan Filipino-American Association of Maryland at katipunan.org

•Foundation for Aid to the Philippines at fapi.org