UPDATE- While power remains out in much of the Tacloban area Elsa is working in, the community flood evacuation center mentioned in the article withstood the heavy rains and wind of the typhoon. Elsa, and those staying with the GoAbroad organization, are safe at the time of this article being published (5:50AM EST)
TACLOBAN, Phillipines — As a massive typhoon made landfall in the central Philippines late Saturday, battering the area with heavy rains, Sturgis native Elsa Thomasma is taking cover with other members of the international volunteer organization she works for, GoAbroad, as well as members of the group Volunteer for the Visayans.
She is watching an eerily similar situation play out in front of her, as she lived and worked through the chaos of Super Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the region a year ago.
Fox 17 spoke with Elsa earlier this year about her fundraising efforts that ultimately was responsible for a community center in the village of Cangumbang, which is credited for saving upwards of 300 people when Typhoon Haiyan wiped out the village.
Typhoon Hagupit, whose name means “lash” in Filipino, came ashore on eastern Samar Island just before 10 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) with winds of 205 kph (127 mph) — the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane.
We were able to speak with Elsa early Saturday (late Saturday in the Philippines) as the storm began to make landfall. While their area has lost power, the cellular data networks are still functioning for the time being. With little battery on her phone left, she was able to send us these brief messages about what she was seeing.
To donate to GoAbroad, please visit www.GoAbroad.org/Donate. Elsa relayed that they will have immediate access to the funds as soon as power is restored to their area.