Knoxville woman with family in the Philippines hears from family for the first time since Typhoon Haiyan

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) It's being called one of the strongest storms in history, and for a Knoxville woman, it hit very close to home.

Fely McGowan is from the Philippines and still has family living there. After last week's Typhoon Haiyan devastated much of the islands, her family was finally able to get through to her with a much anticipated telephone call Wednesday night.

"They are just devastated," McGowan said.

Her family was spared the worst of the storm, living about 500 miles from the city of Tacloban where most of the known damage exists.

McGowan wasn't able to get through to her family because the power has been knocked out and telephone lines have been down. She said they experienced torrential rain and winds.

But that phone call brought bad news along with it. Even though her immediate family is safe, extended family has yet to be found.

"I found out my sister-in-law's family in Tacloban are all gone. She can't find anybody except her mom and dad. They found the bodies two days ago," McGowan said.

McGowan had a hard time looking at pictures of places shes been, and places where she knows people still live that have been destroyed.

"It's just so sad."

It's now being reported that some 4,400 people have died, and another 600,000 are now homeless.

McGowan wants to make a trip back to help with relief efforts, but knows it won't be possible anytime soon.

"But in thought and prayer, we are with them," McCowan said.

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