Lowcountry woman connects with family after super typhoon
LEGAZPI, Philippines (WCIV) -- The strongest storm in the world this year has rakes across the Philippines and is headed for Vietnam.
Recorded wind speeds have approached 200 miles per hour with Typhoon Haiyan, killing at least four people. Forecasters warned of possible catastrophic damage before the super typhoon hit land. In the wake of the storm, trees were down, power was out across parts of the country, and there has been widespread flooding.
Officials in the Philippines say two people were electrocuted in storm-related accidents, one person was hit by a fallen tree and another was hit by lightning.
Communication with affected areas has been lost across much of the area.
In the South Carolina Lowcountry, Nancy Samson says she just found out her sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews who were in the storm's path are all safe and accounted for. Samson said her family does not have power, but they have been able to communicate by Facebook on a cellphone.
"Auntie, pray for us. This typhoon is so strong," one message said.
Samson said her family did not evacuate to a shelter because of flooding concerns, so they weathered the storm in their home. The school where the evacuation center is set up is in a valley, an area that usually sees flooding.
She said their home is about 100 miles south of where the storm made landfall, but have still see extensive damage to trees and home because the storm is 300 miles wide.
"They just accept it. Just stay there, hoping for the best," Samson said. "They were scared. They're praying, praying."
The reports of widespread damage do not surprise NOAA Meteorologist Ron Morales.
"Pretty much not anything is going to be standing. Trees will be gone. Most buildings that are not solid concrete will be gone," he said.
He described the storm as a big tornado.
"We talk about tornadoes being a mile wide. [Haiyan] might be on the scale of 10, 15, 20 miles wide," Morales said. "Basically, a buzz saw or a giant tornado going through a community or city."
With no power and little communication, it will be a while before the storm's full destruction will be seen, but in the Lowcountry, Samson said she's already working on relief efforts for her family.