Local group gears up to aid Philippine typhoon victims

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SAN DIEGO — A Poway-based Filipino relief organization geared up Friday to help victims of a typhoon that unleashed 200-plus-mile-an-hour winds and wrought havoc in the central Philippines.

Gawad Kalinga USA said it’s accepting donations to pay for 200,000 food packs that its affiliate in the Philippines intends to distribute in hard-hit areas. The packs — which include rice, bottled water and canned goods — can feed families for three or four days, according to the group.

Super Typhoon Haiyan tore across the island of Samar yesterday, killing at least three people. The toll was expected climb as search efforts intensify.

Haiyan reportedly generated sustained winds of 195 mph, and gusts of up to 235 mph.

“If you can imagine what happened with Katrina — at about 125 to 140 miles an hour — these winds were surpassing 200 miles an hour, so you can see the devastation that’s going to happen,” Tony Olaes of Gawad Kalinga USA told 10News. “We don’t know how bad it is at this point.”

Olaes said that the power is out in many areas, but he’s seen reports from people on Facebook of water 16 feet deep in some areas and winds that sounded like freight trains.

Authorities said Haiyan might be the strongest ever tropical cyclone to make landfall.