UPDATE: Gregg Anderson has been found safe, according to his sister, Dianna Schneider.
“They were all air lifted by the Filipino Air Force from Samar to Cebu airport and are now waiting for a flight to Manila,” said Schneider in an e-mail Tuesday. “I am the happiest person in the world right now!”
ORIGINAL POST: The family of a Kirkland man who went to the Philippines last week for his 50th birthday is hoping he evacuated Tacloban by the time Typhoon Hayain decimated the city Friday.
Dianna Schneider of Rochester, Thurston County, had no idea where her missing brother, Gregg Anderson, was until an e-mail he wrote to a co-worker Thursday was finally forwarded to her Monday afternoon. The e-mail said the mortgage banker was changing his travel itinerary and going to the Samar province. Fewer people died there than in the places Schneider had planned to visit — Tacloban and Guiuan, which are just south of Samar.
Officials have estimated that the typhoon killed as many as 10,000 in Tacloban alone. At least 200 people died in the Samar province, according to CNN. More than 800,000 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas before the typhoon hit, but some shelters were not strong enough to withstand the storm, according to The Associated Press.
“I don’t know what town he’s in, but I’m hoping he’s in Catbalogan City,” said Schneider, who is waiting for communication lines to open soon so her brother can contact the family. She’s been closely watching news reports about cell towers being set up and Marines arriving in the area.
Schneider said her brother decided to vacation in the Philippines with a friend about two weeks ago to celebrate his birthday. Anderson flew there Nov. 6 and was initially scheduled to fly back this week, but Schneider doubts that will happen.
Anderson is listed on a Google person finder that allows people to crowdsource information about people missing after Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, hit the Philippines. His status will read “someone is seeking information about this person” until someone is able to confirm he is OK.
Although she still has only a vague idea where Anderson might be and how he’s doing, Schneider said the e-mail alone has made her more hopeful her brother will be back in time to help her family cook for Thanksgiving.
“I am so happy right now,” Schneider said. “All I could think about was him in all that rubble. As long as he wasn’t in Tacloban or Guiuan, I’m thrilled.”