“Did you know about the storm that hit Vietnam and the Philippines? How do you feel about what happened to our parent’s homeland?” I asked a friend, My Hoa Nguyen.
“It’s horrifying and depressing,” she said. “It’s tragic how these things can happen. It’s a good thing the U.S. and other nations are providing aid. These kind of events show that we need to be more prepared.”
Vietnam and the Philippines are frequently hit by tropical storms and flooding this time of the year but neither country had ever experienced a storm like Typhoon Ketsana.
“I feel sad for the people that got injured or died in this disaster. I have a lot of family members in Vietnam, which worries me to death,” said another youth, Hau Doan.
The heavily damaged, northern region of the Philippines has limited access to power, medical supplies, and food. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appeared on television telling citizens to wait for rescuers and to remain calm.
In typhoon-ravaged Vietnam, U.S. military helicopters dropped food and water to victims in isolated areas, but what can villagers do with a ration of three packs of dry instant noodles per day?
Typhoon Ketsana caused devastating floods, damage to hundreds of thousands of homes and tens of thousands of hectare of rice and other crops.
“Having my mother still in Vietnam, I worry that she could have gotten hit in the storm since all of the power lines are down,” said a Vietnamese American youth, Alex Nguyen. “I don’t know if she is alive or died.”
But while many are anxious to hear word from family abroad, others in the U.S. are unaware of the calamity.
“I didn’t even know until now,” said Thien Thanh Le and Kathy Pham. “I didn’t even know this was happening since we are in the U.S. and all. I just found out what happened because you explained this to me now.”
Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and children who have immigrated to America are working their butts off to send money to family members in the Philippines and in Vietnam. Since the economy hit rock bottom, this has become increasingly hard. The typhoon has made it a tough situation for the people in those hard-hit countries and for their families in the U.S. who have not been able to get word from them or to help.