LORAIN - Saturday, the United States Navy worked overtime as they continue to rescue people stranded by Typhoon Haiyan. Navy helicopters shuttled evacuees rescued from remote areas and are also delivered much needed aid to other regions.
Authorities say the death toll from the typhoon is more than three thousand and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced out of their homes by the storm damage as some places continue without food and clean water.
The concern continues to grow both internationally and here at home in Northeast Ohio. What's normally "Spa Cecilia" off of Copper Foster Park Road in Lorain looked more like "Operation Philippines," as spa employees and family members packed boxes Saturday. The goods are all going to the many people struggling in the typhoon aftermath.
"I cannot even imagine what they're going through because I know of one person who was swept away from the floods and was able to hang on to a huge tree." And he said that, "I cannot even swim up, because I'll get hit by the debris," said Maria Escuro, owner of Spa Cecilia.
But her ties to the Philippines doesn't end there. Escuro tells NewsChannel5 her own brother was caught in the storm, trying to find his wife who was visiting family when Typhoon Haiyan hit. "Imagine, you know panic that you have and anxiety until finally we were able to talk to him on the cell phone," she said.
Thankfully Escuro's brother survived, but the thought of all those still struggling did not sit will well with the spa owner. She then hit Facebook asking for help. The result was the first collection that was boxed this Saturday at her Lorain business. The process even became emotional for friends and family involved.
When it comes to the help already given to the Philippines, Escuro tells NewsChannel5, "If Americans can only see what's being done there by their own soldiers, it makes us very emotional … the humanitarian aid has really been just overwhelming. And even the response here at home with our own friends as been really … there are no words."
Escuro said Saturday she couldn't be more proud to be an American, and as long as there's still a great need, she wants to help.
Shelly Sison, a close friend of Escuro's was also at the spa boxing goods with her three boys. Sison's husband and three sons share the Filipino heritage and Sison said Saturday, "Just thinking and reading these stories - I mean people having no water, no food, living on the ground, I could not imagine. We are so fortunate here. I've never gone a day without food. I've never gone a day without water. I stop at Starbucks multiple times a day and you know $5 can feed a whole family for multiple days over there and that's what I spend in one stop."
On the "Spa Cecilia" Facebook page, Escuro is asking people do donate items like towels, bed sheets, clothing for warm weather, canned goods, toiletries and other non-perishable items. She is collecting those donates at her businesses, located at 1980 Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain. Business hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Escuro tells NewsChannel5 she'll be collecting up until the new year and anyone who would like to donate can drop off items there.