UPDATE: Wichita woman's family safe in Philippines

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WICHITA, Kan. -- UPDATE:

A Wichita woman who has been awaiting word from her family in the Philippines has learned that her family is safe and all accounted for.

Reina Shurtz, two sons, brothers, sister, mother, nieces and nephews all live in the city hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. Reina and her husband Joe finally received word today that all 19 members of Reina's family have been accounted for.

Her borther posted a message on Facebook this morning says that all 19 family memebers had traveled 50 miles to the town of Ormoc, on the other side of the island. They are still trying to get to Cebu where some supplies are being distributed.

Two amphibious ships are transporting U.S. Marines from Okinawa to assist with rescue and relief efforts. The military plans to take over the airport to set up a command center.

So far, no food or water has been distributed to the hardest hit areas. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has declared a state of emergency. However, Joe Shurtz says he believes that due to political issues between the president and other areas of the government are responsible for delays in aid and rescue efforts.

If you would like to help the Bacalando Family, a fund has been established. Donations can be dropped off at any Bank of the West location, or by clicking here.


"Sometimes I don't like to watch the news," said Reina Shurtz Monday morning. "It just makes you cry."

Her two sons, along with her brothers, sister, mother, nieces and nephews are now missing. Their homes right along the shore in the city hardest hit are gone. Her last contact was a Facebook message.
"They were just waiting for the typhoon," said Shurtz. "I said you have to move, because there's a tendency for water to rise up."
The family, all 19 of them piled into a large vehicle and tried to get to a school shelter. The last Shurtz heard, they made it to an apartment building inland.

"I don't know the structure of the apartment," she said. "I'm hoping it was strong and the foundation good."

Reina and her husband Joe are now on pins and needles. Learning thousands are dead and there is no communication or power in her country, the stress is mounting.

"There's no concern at all for physical things," said Joe Shurtz. "Just food and water."

Rena Shurtz is struggling as the wait goes on and on. "Since the last time I talked to them, I can't sleep, I don't eat," she said.

All they can do is wait.

"I pray hard. Strong faith in God. That's all I'm doing. It's just hard for me to accept."


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