MACKAY woman Vivien Hanrahan's family was huddled together in their home in Cebu City in the Philippines, when Typhoon Haiyan hit.
At least 10,000 people are feared dead after the typhoon raged across the nation, while another nine million have been affected.
Ms Hanrahan said her family heard a "deathly noise" when the country was hit by wind gusts of 275kmh.
"It was that noise and they heard debris, sheets of metal flying," she said. "It was a very scary experience for all of them."
She said her family was prepared for the storm to hit and had charged their mobile phones. Ms Hanrahan was on the phone with them as the storm began to hit.
"We could hear the noises and the rain," she said.
Ms Hanrahan, who has been in Mackay for 28 years, has nine sisters. Most were together in Cebu City while another was on the north-east coast of Cebu at a resort, which she manages.
"They've got to rebuild the place now," Ms Hanrahan said.
All of her immediate family are safe but there are some family and friends of her cousins who can't be reached.
She said every time she saw the news or read more about the devastation she felt herself getting upset.
"Every time I see this and hear about it I just cry," she said. "Thank God all my family members are all fine."
Her family in the Philippines has already started organising a relief collection, which Ms Hanrahan hopes to be a part of, especially for the smaller communities that are in desperate need of food, water, clothing and shelter.
"There are towns north of Cebu that haven't been mentioned but about 90% of the towns have been devastated," she said.
"We need to help the people who survived. We need to get them started again and put them back on track."
In some areas people were holding-up signs by the road, asking for food and water.
HOW TO HELP
For information on welfare of friends and family call 1300555135
Red Cross: www.redcross.org.au
Vivien Hanrahan hopes to establish a way for Mackay people to donate this week