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WASHINGTON(WUSA9) -- One week after a devastating typhoon hit the Philippines, families in the Washington region are still waiting to hear from loved ones.

The death toll is upto nearly 4,000 with roughly 1,200 still missing.

"We just wait," Elena Gruspe of Riverdale, Md. said, struggling to hold back her emotions. It's been a week of not knowing if her two sisters survived the typhoon that ravaged her home town in the city of Tacloban.

She does know the people who did survive lost everything.


"They don't have homes," Gruspe said. "They don't have anything."

The typhoon wiped out her family's general store. The pink portion upstairs was where Elena and her husband were going to live out their Golden Years.

It is a miracle her brother Manuel survived. He tied his family together to the third level stairwell railing to ride out the storm.

"They tied themselves to be together because whatever happened they would be together," Gruspe said. "They stayed there together on that railing and that's why they were saved."

He walked for 9 hours to find food and civilization but was met with only more despair and destruction.

The Gruspe family is not alone in their grief and anguish of waiting. The Filipino community has been come together including local churches, collecting donations and to pray for victims' families.

Sunday Service at Agape Baptist Church off Wisconsin Avenue in NW, was devoted the the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan.

Pastor James Martinez tries to console his congregation while dealing with his own grief.

"Two of my cousins died and two of my grand nephews were swept away by the waters to the ocean. This is really heartbreaking, for me and my family," Martinez said.

Pastor Martinez keeps strong and spreads the message to his community the only way he knows how.

"I just have to look up to the Lord and rely on God's promise we can overcome this."

Elena also keeps strong as the oldest sibling, she continues to keep busy at work, waiting for any news.

"If they can call us and say they are okay that's all. That's all. I don't like to cry because I'm strong."

According to a 2010 Census there are more than 75,000 Filipinos living in the D.C. region and almost as many in Baltimore and the Virginia Beach areas.

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