Sturgis Natives Among Missing After Typhoon Hits the Philippines

Posted at 9:34 PM, Nov 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-10 22:44:55-05

TACLOBAN, Philippines — It’s now feared more than 10,000 people are dead in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan – and two West Michigan natives are among the missing.

Family tells us 23-year-old Carter Brown and 24-year-old Elsa Thomasma are missing from Tacloban City, one of the hardest hit by the typhoon.

Both are graduates of Sturgis High School in 2008 then Grand Valley State University.

Brown’s brother, Austin, says his brother and Elsa have been friends since middle school.

They’re both over in the Philippines with the GoAbroad Foundation.

Thomasma’s Facebook page had updates tracking the storm, until those updates abruptly stopped last Thursday.

Austin says he FaceTimed with his brother Wednesday night as they were preparing for the storm.  He says Carter told him they had stored food and water in their office on the second floor and were going to ride out the storm.

As the days pass and the two remain missing, the families are left praying and eagerly awaiting word on their loved ones.

Austin says they’re checking with the Red Cross, the embassy in the Philippines, and looking for Carter and Elsa’s faces in video clips others have posted from Tacloban.

Hope is still high. Austin says Carter worked in the ER as a nurse’s aide at Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids before leaving for Tacloban.

Carter is very smart and very skilled in chaotic situations having worked in the ER department, his brother says, and Austin has no doubt he is using those skills now.