CBS News 8 producer finally finds his family alive after typhoon - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

CBS News 8 producer finally finds his family alive after typhoon

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - After days of anxious waiting, a CBS News 8 staffer has finally heard from his relatives in the Philippines.

Associate producer Al Columbo was relieved to find out they had survived the storm.

Writing news stories about the typhoon in the Philippines, Al looked calm on the outside, but on the inside his co-workers had no idea he was battling his own personal storm.

His cousin Charis and her husband have four children in the Philippines, including Al's favorite, 12-year-old Linette.

"Linette likes to take lots of selfies," he said.

Al tried to frantically contact his relatives on Facebook.

"I sent her a message, 'I'm so worried about you, please contact me'," he said.

For four full days there was no response.

"I thought she was dead. I thought they were all dead when I was watching the videos of Tacloban," he said.

Tacloban took the brunt of the storm, and it's just 26 miles away from MacArthur, Leyte, where Al's family lives -- at sea level right on the water.

"All I could think of was my cousins were there on the streets somewhere rotting in the sun," Al said.

Al kept showing up to work and typing the copy that leads our newscasts, yet we had no idea he was breaking down during his lunch breaks and not eating.

"All I could think about was they're either dead or starving," he said.

Turns out Charis' famiy was alive, but it took time to escape to a neighboring island, where they finally sent a message to Al telling him they were OK.

Their home is destroyed and they have no food.

"But thank god they're alive, because I can't ask for anything more than that," Al said.

After all of that silence, it was time for Al to smile.

"Very relieved… I actually started eating again. I have my appetite back," he said.

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