LAKELAND, Fla. — A Lakeland police officer’s mission to search out his dad and mom after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico was a a lot bigger effort to attach folks with their very own family members.

Officer Javier Perez had been coping with hurricane clean-up of his personal throughout town, broken by Hurricane Irma. But Maria shaped with its observe towards the Caribbean island the place he grew up.

A Facebook put up on the division’s web page particulars Perez’ quick response: as soon as the storm hit and knocked out communications, he like many others desperately wished to ensure household had survived.

He hit the telephones.

“I started calling everyone I could think of; the Navy, the Coastguard, basically anyone who could possibly get me there,” mentioned Perez, in line with the put up. “There was no restrict on who I might attain out to. 

“My whole focus was on discovering out if my dad and mom have been okay.”

Perez came upon a flight from Florida to Puerto Rico could be taking off, and he jumped on the probability to get a seat. Once on the island and after a snafu with securing a rental automobile, he caught a glimpse of individuals he knew.

“When I saw my mom and dad, I lost it for a moment,” Perez mentioned. “I was so happy to know they were safe.”

But others wished to know their family members identical destiny, too. Perez wrote on a Puerto Rico-related Facebook put up about how excited he was to see his household protected, and now others have been asking him for info — something in any respect given the downed energy strains and communication.

The officer labored to reply their questions and, whereas on the island, knock on doorways on behalf of individuals awaiting phrase.

The Lakeland Police Department’s Facebook web page acquired questions, too, however they have been directed to Perez. 

“That is my culture and my heritage. In Puerto Rico we are always helping one another without having to be asked,” Perez mentioned.

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