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Hundreds attend Jacksonville benefit dinner for victims of Typhoon Haiyan

9:01 PM, Nov 15, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Friday night, the Maharlika Hall & Sports Grill was packed with people who wanted to show support and raise money for the thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan that slammed the Philippines.

Moises Bolante and his wife, Emma, have family in Tacloban, one of the hardest hit cities in the Philippines.

"We have not seen them in years," said Emma Bolante.

After the storm, three to four days went by before they heard from anyone.

"Yes, because there's no communication," the Bolantes said.

Moises said his 85-year-old sister died in the storm.

"I was sad," Moises said.

"He was devastated," Emma added.

Emma said her sister-in-law's family tried to escape after warnings, but water rushed too quickly. Moises' sister may have lost her grip.

"They found her the following day," Emma explained. "She had already drowned."

More than 500,000 people are displaced across the country. Emma said the devastation is so great, the family couldn't find a casket for her sister-in-law.

"There's nothing," Emma said, as she wiped away tears. "There's nothing there, so they just wrapped her in a blanket."

"Yeah, and buried her in the yard," Moises said.

They still haven't heard from 10 family members

"I'm really hoping to God that they're safe," Emma said as she clasped her hands and looked up.

To try to help storm victims, the group "We Filipinos, Inc" and "Read Philippines" hosted a fundraising benefit dinner Friday. More than half the proceeds go directly to storm victims.

Victims like the relatives of the Bolantes.

"I'm just so grateful with all of these people trying to help everybody there in the Philippines," Emma said.

Click here to learn how you can help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

First Coast News

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