St. Petersburg professor raising money to help small town in Puerto Rico

St. Petersburg College professor Antonio Paris is hoping a GoFundMe page will help the people of the town where he grew up.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - When it comes to helping Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Irma, it seems like sometimes the focus is getting the bigger cities back up and running. 

However, people in smaller towns are suffering and having a hard time getting basic supplies.

St. Petersburg College professor Antonio Paris is hoping a GoFundMe page will help the people of the town where he grew up.

It's called Utuado, located in the mountains in the central part of the country.  Like most of the country, it was devastated by hurricane Maria.

Paris said the situation in Utuado is dire. The roads around it are destroyed. They’re without power, water gas and fresh food.

Paris and his wife, Cherish, have yet to hear from and account for his entire family still living there. The two are doing what they can to help. 

"The bigger towns, the ones that have the major airports and bigger hotels, will, unfortunately, get the attention first,” Antonio Paris said. “I'm not saying that they are not focusing on the inner towns, but that is normal.”

Antonio Paris posted the GoFundMe on Wednesday with a goal of raising $15,000 in a week. He's raised $7,410 as of Thursday morning.

"It's hard, you have to be determined to get there, because a lot of these roads are washed away,” Cherish Paris said. “It's going to be a challenge, but we know there are people there, we know there are people in need and they are not forgotten."

 Antonio Paris hopes to get the supplies directly to the town of Utuado within two weeks. 10News will follow up with his efforts and let you know how it's going.  Here's the link to the page if you would like to see more of his story and help.

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