By Shirin Rajaee

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento-area firefighter from Mexico City is making his way to the earthquake-ravaged area to lend a helping hand.

As rescuers frantically dig into the ruins of collapsed buildings, hoping to find survivors of Tuesday’s devastating quake, Roberto Padilla is packing his bags.

“My priority is just to get there as soon as I can, I’m not sure what to expect but just help,” he said.

Set to touch down in Mexico City by sunrise Thursday morning, Padilla joins other local groups who are mobilizing efforts to send aid to Mexico.

“We had some family members that were missing; fortunately, they are located, but the initial thought was overwhelming and emotional. I have family members who had schools right in front of their homes collapse, and there are children trapped,” he said.

Padilla lived through the 1985 quake as a young boy. He is hoping to take his 22 years experience as a first responder back to his homeland.

“I can’t sit here, and watch TV and write a check for some telethon when I know I have the skills that could save someone’s life,” said Padilla.

With power out in most places and landlines, not the most reliable, Padilla stresses the importance of social media at a time of disaster.

“Social media is an extremely powerful tool, works differently than a landline, and it’s saving lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, at Casa De Espanol in downtown Sacramento, donations were being collected, and a planning meeting was being held by leaders of some organizations.

“Mexico City is my heart, anything I can do, I’m here for that,” said Ivonne Cedillo.

Cedillo is dropping off rescue equipment after her sister’s apartment nearly collapsed.

“We are looking for hydraulic equipment that can lift walls that have collapsed, we are looking for saws that can cut metal,” said volunteer Roberto Lopez.

Lopez is helping mobilize the effort, with crews as even as far as Canada sending aid.

“I have arranged a fleet of vans leaving tonight at midnight from Monterey Bay with equipment,” said Lopez

A race against the clock as tragedy and destruction inspires community support.

“I’m just so proud that everyone can come together,” said Lopez

“At the end of the day, it’s an overwhelming situation, so I have to do this,” said Padilla.

Wednesday night’s planning meeting resulted in a fundraiser on Oct. 1. Organizers say more details will come later.

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