KIRKLAND, Wash. - Gregg Anderson, a mortgage banker from Kirkland, is alive and well.
Anderson flew to the Philippines for what was to be a beach vacation to celebrate his 50th birthday. He was in the country when Typhoon Haiyan hit on Friday with a ferocity forecasters say they have never seen before.
His family did not hear from him until Tuesday morning.
>>> John Knicely is speaking to Anderson's family Tuesday. Watch the interview and get an update on the effects of Typhoon Haiyan at 5 p.m. on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.
"This is the first place that the typhoon hit," said Dianna Schneider as she showed KIRO 7 the nation of islands on the map Monday.
A surge of water overwhelmed whole villages Friday, practically wiping them out. Anderson's sister says he left for Manila on Nov. 3. She didn't realize a typhoon was headed the same way until the middle of last week. "And I got very, very worried," she said. "Very worried." She tried reaching him on Facebook. Then she began calling aid agencies from Kirkland to Manila.
At 2 p.m. Monday she got word that he messaged his co-workers Thursday, the day before the typhoon hit. "That said that he is going to Sumar," said Schneider. "So that is much better than him being in Tacloban City." She said that, by sharing his picture with KIRO 7, she hoped another reporter in the Philippines will help find him. "So that when they're walking down the street interviewing people, they see Gregg, and they say, 'Hey, I recognize you. You call your sister. She's worried about you, you hear?'"
Anderson's family finally got in touch with him on the phone Tuesday morning. They learned that he, his friend and his girlfriend were airlifted by the Filipino Air Force from Samar and taken to Cebu, where they were waiting for a flight to Manila.
"I am the happiest person on earth right now," Schneider said.
Anderson turns 50 on Wednesday.