Puerto Rico native in Pasco Co. raises more than $20k for relief supplies

- One of the areas in Puerto Rico destroyed by Hurricane Maria is the hometown of a Pasco County man. It's remote and difficult to reach by aid workers.  

So rather than sit back and hope his family and neighbors get what they need, Antonio Paris is raising tens of thousands of dollars to bring it directly to them.

It can be a helpless feeling watching your hometown and family suffer from 1,200 miles away. "Millions of people in Puerto Rico are in the process of dying right now," Antonio Paris said. "Unless they get enough nutrition, the elderly will start passing away and then the sick and the disabled and the kids."

Paris lives in New Port Richey. But, he grew up in Utuado, Puerto Rico, a small town that suffered one of the biggest hits from Hurricane Irma. "No cell phones, no power, no water. Basically, times right now are desperate," Paris said.

His family had to drive two hours just to let him know they survived. "He took a photo, said I'm okay, I gotta go, there's a line behind me."

Utuado is located in the mountains, far from any big city where supplies are being shipped. The winding roads were destroyed by mudslides.

"They're marooned in this little town where they can not escape," Paris said.

So Paris, Director of PlanetaryScience.org sent out an SOSto his 272,000 Twitter followers, asking for their help and donations.

He's packing up hundreds of bags of food, water and medical supplies along with solar/crank-powered devices that function as a flashlight, siren, radio and phone charger.

"They don't have radios, they don't have TV, their cell phones don't work, how will they know where to go for food, how will they know to go for medical attention?" Paris said. "This information is just as important as food and water."

In a week, he's raised about $25,000. As soon as he's able, Paris will fly with the supplies to Puerto Rico. Then, he'll travel door-to-door, by truck or on foot. delivering some much-needed hope and bringing light to a dark situation.

"Hurricane Maria basically took everything they have," Paris said. "My intent is to give these people a little bit of comfort and help them get through this."

If you'd like to learn more about Antonio Paris' efforts or if you'd like to help, you can visit his page at https://www.Gofundme.Com/2369dp-puerto-rico-disaster-relief-fund or http://planetary-science.org/.

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