Nerve-wracking search for Philippines typhoon missing kin

By Jennifer Hunt

On Thursday, Nov. 7, Super Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda, touched down in the Philippines. It was only there for a matter of hours, but it left behind a path of destruction and despair. The U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated peak winds to be 195 mph, with gusts of 220 mph. Officials believe Haiyan may have been one of the most intense tropical storms in modern history.

Tacloban, the capital city of the province of Leyte, was hit the hardest. Two of my siblings only lived a couple hours south of Tacloban, in another coastal city named Abuyog. The last I heard from them, they had evacuated from their homes to wait out the storm. That was Thursday night, before the storm knocked out all means of communication from the island. Thus began the most terrifying and anxiety-ridden weekend my family has ever endured.

As the death toll estimate increased, so did our fears. My mom went into a panic after seeing the death estimate reach 10,000. Watching the destruction of Tacloban on the news devastated me, but I couldn't avert my eyes. To see looks of horror and unimaginable grief on faces that resembled my own relatives broke my heart.

Maybe if I was lucky, I could catch a quick glimpse of one of my missing family members.

Maybe if I was unlucky, I would see their bodies among the others strewn throughout the debris. I just wanted to know. Nothing was worse than the unknown at this point. Each day, I checked every news outlet imaginable to find anything about the status of Abuyog. I even went to my mom's house and sat through hours of The Filipino Channel's news broadcasts even though I don't understand Tagolog. I also employed various methods to search for my siblings and their families. I checked the Red Cross's list of survivors, and I submitted their information to the Google Typhoon Yolanda missing person finder.

It was strange, and so upsetting, to attach each picture on their individual profiles. Especially upsetting was the missing person profile I had to create for my infant twin nephews, James and Jason, both only three months old.

Four nerve-wracking days after the storm hit, my mom received a call from my oldest brother Efren late Sunday night. Everyone was alive and well. The house my mom built for Efren was still in tact, but severely damaged. However, my older sister Brendalyn and her family lost everything. Their house was wiped out by the storm, but they still considered themselves lucky. At least they escaped with their lives.

Haiyan's aftermath thrust the Philippines into the international spotlight. Images of its citizens suffering saturate every news outlet as the numbers of the unfortunate continue to rise. As of now 620,000 people have been displaced, according to CNN. Survivors are running dangerously low on food and water, and the water they do have is contaminated.

To make matters worse, there's new tropical depression that made landfall in Mindinao three days after Haiyan's devastation.

Although many organizations have reached out to aid the disaster-stricken country, relief is still slow going. The Waray Waray Association, a Hampton Roads group of Filipinos who originated from Leyte, has scheduled a fund raiser to help expedite relief for Haiyan victims Nov. 29 at the Philippine Cultural Center in Virginia Beach. Tickets are $20, and the event begins at 6:30 p.m.

The writer is a junior at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Google visit inspires students

By Whitney Johnson


Many college students may not receive the opportunity to meet face-to-face with representatives from big-time companies such as Google. However, last week, Hampton University students were given quite a few chances to make an impact, while a company representative hosted sessions, workshops and "coffee chats" over a three-day period. Pictured at right are Google Ambassadors Zac Hinton and Candice Brown; The HUnderground member, Brianna Dance; and Google representative, Chastity Wells.

Junior Zachary Hinton, a computer science major and broadcast journalism minor from Raleigh, N.C., interned at Google recently.

"My experience at Google this past summer was the experience of a lifetime," said Hinton. "My internship at Google increased my knowledge in both computer science and broadcast journalism." He added, "I not only learned how to code in HTML/CSS, but I also got the chance to make video scripts and edit videos for Google's YouTube page in Final Cut Pro."

Google's visit also gave hope to graduating seniors who wish to acquire a job upon graduation. "Google's visit to our school helped to ensure the probability of me being able to enter a very successful company," said graduating senior Deniqua Washington, a broadcast journalism major from Virginia Beach, Va.

These students' advice and encouragement may not only influence what they put on their resumes, but also how they view Google's hiring process. They now know that it is important to not just meet expectations but to go beyond them. In the words of Google, "Great just isn't good enough."

The writer is a student at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Town hall meeting revealed evident split within GOP

By Kathryn Kenny and Evan Winston

Before today's gubernatorial election, emotions ran high Thursday evening as Republicans, Democrats factional groups went head to head on topics ranging from the federal government shutdown, to gun control regulations, student loans, and international affairs.

Hampton University hosted the televised meeting where students and Hampton Roads residents put hard-hitting questions to Republican, Democratic, tea party and independent panel representatives.

The conversation ensued into debate among party lines where the lack of bipartisanship was evident as neither party could agree on almost every issue presented at the meeting. What was even more evident was the divide within the Republican Party as representatives from both the tea party and Republican Party conflicted on many ideas, Women's Rights proved to be a pressure point within the party as the representatives could not agree on differing ideas.

A student asked about women's right to contraception, which revealed the party's obvious differences.

Tea Party representative Reagan George answered, "Women's rights are a very, very small issue in America compared to the issue of our economic debt."

"I don't agree with George's side on women's rights," said Carl Anderson, a Republican panelist.

Anderson said Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli represented tea party Ideas and that "he may have been pushed a little bit extreme" on women's issues. For example, the trans vaginal ultra sound policy put forth by Cuccinelli, said Anderson, "went a little bit too far."

The writers are students at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.