MILLER PLACE - Long Islanders who have loved ones in the Philippines are anxiously awaiting word after a monster typhoon made landfall there today.
Weather officials say Typhoon Haiyan packed one of the strongest punches the Philippines has ever seen. Sustained winds reached 147 mph with gusts of more than 170 mph, cutting off power to many areas and prompting thousands of evacuations.
Mac Villapando, of Miller Place, grew up in the Philippines and has many friends and family members who still live there today. He says that communication has been cut off since the last time he spoke to his relatives three days ago, when they were planning to head to Singapore.
Villapando says the local government advised its citizens to prepare for the storm about a week ago. Many did what they could, cutting tree limbs and boarding up windows, trying to mitigate the damage. Thousands of others Filipinos evacuated coastal areas and left for shelters.
Experts say Haiyan is just about on par with a strong category 4 hurricane, but officials say it moved quickly and blew out of the area before it could cause much more damage. Long Islanders with ties to some of the Philippines' 7,107 islands are hoping that's the case.
The Holbrook-based Tanglaw Filipino-American Society is planning to collect food, clothing and other supplies to send to the region.