SEBRING - When Miguel Jeanjaquet heard on the news about stories of mothers trying to hold onto their children wrapped in blankets in his native Philippines, it especially hit home because he has young children.
Hearing those stories and worrying about his own family, who turned out OK, made it difficult for him to sleep, he said.
"All I can do is pray,"said Jeanjaquet, a lab employee at Florida Hospital Heartland.
Jeanjaquet and other Florida Hospital personnel from the Philippines gathered together with others Thursday morning at Florida Hospital's Sebring campus for a prayer service.
For many of those who gathered for prayer, the passage of a few hours provided much relief, as during that time they finally learned that their loved ones in the Philippines survived Typhoon Haiyan.
Many said that cell phones were what enabled them to get information. Charging stations using generators were set up for people, they said.
Jeanjaquet said it took about 48 hours for him to find out that his family was okay. But he was sad that others didn't survive and that the town in which he grew up was devastated.
"All of us are family," he said, adding that the Bayanihan Spirit of communal unit and cooperation is very much alive.
Ampy Vicente, another Florida Hospital employee, said her family lives in the area hit directly by the storm and she's very happy to have learned they are okay.
But at the same time, she said, they struggle to get food and water to survive. She said she was told by her sister they would have to walk miles to get food and water.
The roof of a home where some family members live was damaged so they took vinyl flooring and covered the damaged area so they would remain dry, she said.
Sonia Quejada, another employee, said she learned through Facebook that her family was safe.
"I was so happy," she said. She added that the storm destroyed the part of the roof over the kitchen of her family's house.
Family members planned to leave that area, she said. They included her father, sister and cousins.
Quejada said her family was prepared and had supplies, but those items are running out.
Flor Manili-Black, lab manager at Florida Hospital's Sebring facility, said finding out that her father was okay was what was most important. Her family's ancestral home was split in two, she said, but added, "I'm not worried about that. It's just property. He's (her father) okay and that's all that matters."
Ralph Bacolod, a medical technologist at Florida Hospital, said he was happy to find out his family survived, but worried that they need food, water and other supplies.
"They really have nothing left," he said. "Basically they lost everything."
Nicholas McGrath, a transfusion services supervisor at Florida Hospital, said he was worried about his 82-year-old aunt, Adelle Arehart, who graduated from Sebring High School and became a nurse/missionary in Manilla for the past 50 years.
"She emailed us that she's okay," he said
Some of the employees said they plan to meet and try to organize to find ways to help people in the Philippines.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is helping people in the Philippines. Donations can be made at www.ADRA.org or people can go to www.FHheartland.org to make donations.
The American Red Cross also is accepting donations. People can go to www.redcross.org/midflorida or call (800)-Red-Cross.