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Perez on mission to help people of his homeland

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By Jesef Williams

Jose Perez's visit to his homeland this holiday season will carry extra meaning.

Perez, a Lancaster resident, had planned to leave for Tabasco, Mexico, on Saturday night to provide assistance to people there affected by the massive flooding in late October and early November.

Heavy rains hit Tabasco and Chiapas, leading to the widespread flooding that has affected more than a million people.

Tabasco and Chiapas are two Mexican states in the southern part of the country.

Since the flooding, Perez has been collecting water, canned goods and clothing to take to Tabasco.

Perez is driving his van with his son, Jose Jr. It's nearly a 3,000 mile trip that will take three or four days to complete.

The items collected have been loaded onto a trailer attached to the van.

"I want to give them (people affected by the floods) something for Christmas and this is the best gift I can give them," Perez said.

Perez has 20 boxes of items that should help about 30 people.

Victory Worship Center and The Home Depot are some of the entities that have donated to Perez's drive. A lot of individuals have helped out as well, he said.

People learned of his drive through word of mouth.

Perez said he was in Tabasco when the flooding began. No one in his family was affected, but he knows a lot of people who've suffered major damage to their homes.

"All of downtown was flooded," he said. "Half of the city was underwater. It was something like (Hurricane) Katrina."

Perez has been living in Lancaster for 19 years. His wife and daughter, though, live in Tabasco and want to relocate to the United States one day. Perez's mother and siblings are in Tabasco, too.

Jose Jr. was happy to learn that his family was OK, but he feels for those who've lost property in the flooding.

"I was relieved but also concerned about the other people who were victims," he said.

The flooding left about 80 percent of Tabasco under water. About 19,000 people in Tabasco and Chiapas are now being asked to evacuate.

Perez said his brother, who's the president of a university in Tabasco, will rally college students to help identity the people who will receive his items.

Perez and his son will stay in Tabasco until Jan. 2.

Contact Jesef Williams

at 283-1152 or

jwilliams@thelancasternews.com