Iowans with friends and family in the Philippines are beginning to hear from their loved ones in the areas hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan, but relief has been a slow and taxing process. It took nearly a week for Mary Sherrill to reach members of her family who live near the hardest-hit city of Tacloban.

Sherrill grew up in the Philippines and moved to Iowa, recently, from Philadelphia. “You’re here in the states, you cannot call anyone, there’s no one you can talk to about it, you feel helpless and frustrated at the same time,” Sherill said. Sherill’s family does not have electricity, but phone companies have set up charging stations to help survivors contact loved ones.

Several organizations are holding fundraisers to send money for disaster relief. Doctor Rosa Reyes of the Filipino-American Association of Iowa says her medical contacts in the Philippines are saying monetary donations are best. “They sent me lists of all these supplies they would need to purchase just to help,” Reyes said. The Association is holding two benefit performances in the Des Moines area to raise money for disaster relief. In addition, direct deposit donations can be made at Veridian Credit Union branches to the “Filipino-American Association of Iowa Helping Hands Fund.”

Sherrill and Reyes made their comments as guests on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River program.