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From our News Partners at WCBD-TV.

The death toll continues to rise in the Philippines after one of the most powerful storms in recorded history slammed into the island nation over the weekend. Relief efforts are now being organized around the world.

Here in the lowcountry the efforts are increasing and so are the prayers, especially in one Berkeley County town where a large number of Filipino descendants await word from family.

The Philippines is surrounded by vast ocean and when it comes to distance at, 8,863 miles, it could not be further away from South Carolina.

The tragedy is hitting pretty close to home says Father Jason Caganap, who is the pastor of the only Catholic Church in Goose Creek.

"There is a saying if you want to meet a Filipino go to a Catholic Church." Said Caganap.

Father Caganap leads the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in a town with a population of about 40,000 people and 3.5-percent of them are of Filipino decent; most of them are the children and grandchildren of retired Navy.

Father Caganap says they make up a full half of the 2-thousand families who attend the church. For them the island has never felt more distant. With communication sparse at best, they are reaching out in other ways with strong faith and Caganap says an unshakable optimism.

"Filipinos has strong religion and spiritual life, whatever natural disasters or calamities come their way they are always able to see the white light, the light at the end of the tunnel."

Meantime to get information about family in area the local American Red Cross has set up international tracing for the Philippines if you have not heard from family and have concerns you can call 1-800-Red Cross or locally at 843-764-2323.

Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.