We just "adopted" 200 kids; need help

The need is growing. We just "adopted" about 200 school kids who need our help. Please see below and go here to sponsor meals for earthquake victims. -- Gary

Saturday Morning:

With the earthquakes continuing, life just can't return to any semblance of "normal" for the people along the southern coast of Puerto Rico. 

As I've been sharing with you, thousands simply refuse to return to their homes for fear that the structures will collapse with the next earthquake. At the peak of the strongest quake, the shaking was so bad that you couldn't even walk. And the quakes usually seem to hit in the middle of the night.

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8,000 earthquake refugees

Another quake hit Puerto Rico yesterday morning. There are now officially 8,000 refugees and perhaps tens of thousands more who cannot or will not return to their homes. See below for details, and go here to help. -- Gary

Thursday Morning:

The earthquake crisis is FAR FROM OVER in Puerto Rico. In fact, the recovery really cannot begin until the earthquakes stop. And they just don't seem to stop. 

The island was hit by another earthquake early yesterday morning. And the people here are simply afraid that the next shaking will cause their homes to crumble, so they won't return to their homes. 

+ + 8,000 refugees, "psychological torture"

One official estimate indicates there are 8,000 refugees from the earthquakes. But that number is just the tip of the iceberg because it doesn't count those who are sleeping in tents in local parks, or on the side of the street, or even outside their own homes. One report says there have been as many as 40,000 people camping outside their homes in the city of Ponce alone. We hear reports that people will run into their homes, gather a few things, and then run out for fear of another earthquake. One person close to the situation called it "psychological torture."

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Another quake TODAY and more fear...

Many folks in Puerto Rico are still living in tents! Today, we are reaching some of the forgotten communities that were hardest hit. Please see below and go here to help. -- Gary

Monday Afternoon:

I just connected with our Mercy Chefs team in Puerto Rico, where earthquakes continue to shake the island. Over the weekend, more quakes also brought a tsunami warning. And this morning as our team was picking up supplies, another earthquake hit registering 4.9. They said the shelves were shaking and rocking back and forth. This only added to the anxiety that these daily shakings are causing.

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Serving hot meals TONIGHT!

Our team has arrived in Puerto Rico and Mercy Chefs is serving hot meals TONIGHT at seven feeding locations within three of the hardest-hit communities as the earthquake crisis continues.

+ + "The ground is still shaking"

One earthquake victim told CNN, "We're in a fight right now. The ground is still shaking" after more quakes rocked the island both Wednesday and Thursday. Many homes and buildings have been damaged or destroyed, and authorities fear that many more may now have inherent structural weaknesses that make them even more susceptible to the next shaking. That's why so many people are still afraid to return to their homes and are sleeping in tents or cars or have gone to one of the 30 shelters that have opened along the southern coast (where we have established a kitchen).

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Another Quake! We are DEPLOYING!

Puerto Rico was hit by yet another earthquake early this morning -- this one registering 5.2. I have never seen anything like this. The number and intensity of the earthquakes has created an ongoing terror so that thousands of people are still refusing to sleep in their own homes for fear that the structures will collapse on them in the middle of the night.

Many locals are heading to refugee shelters during the day, but the shelters close at night and the people have to fend for themselves. Since many won't or can't return to their homes, they head to a park or any open space where they sleep in tents, or just sleep in their cars. Anything to stay out of the shaking buildings.

TODAY I made the decision to DEPLOY a Mercy Chefs team to Ponce, a city on the southern coast just 20 miles from the epicenter of the largest quakes. We just secured access to a kitchen in Ponce that has not been seriously damaged by the earthquakes, which is a great blessing. There is an urgent need to provide hot meals to the surrounding villages and for the relief workers who are in the area to help with the disaster -- as well as those who are sleeping in tents and cars.

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More DISTURBING IMAGES from Puerto Rico earthquake

As of this morning more than 950 earthquakes and aftershocks have hit Puerto Rico in the past few days. Reports indicate that THREE MORE quakes that shook the ground hit earlier today. As a result, the people are still gripped with fear and uncertainty. CBS News is reporting this morning that "thousands" are still sleeping outside for fear of their homes collapsing on them during the next shaking. That's what our team member confirmed after visiting ground zero today to deliver our water unit.

And as we get a closer look at the devastation in Puerto Rico from our partners on the ground, the images are disturbing.

Historic churches damaged beyond repair.

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SHOCK in Puerto Rico!


I just connected with our partners in Puerto Rico who are working at the epicenter of the earthquake strike. The situation is BAD.
Many homes and structures have been destroyed including some historic churches. Damage and loss estimates continue to escalate into the billions.

Hundreds of thousands are still without power and many of the grocery stores have already been emptied. There have been so many quakes and aftershocks (80 or more) that people are still sleeping in tents because they fear returning to their homes. Gas for vehicles is hard to come by and the government is asking people not to travel. And drinking water is quickly becoming a real problem.

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Puerto Rico Earthquake

This is unbelievable.

A major earthquake hit Puerto Rico on Monday, followed up by an even more massive quake yesterday morning with SIX TIMES the force that registered 6.4 on the Richter Scale. 

The quake has impacted hundreds of thousands and experts are already estimating $3.1 billion in damages and economic losses to the island. This was the second earthquake in two days at a time when Puerto Rico is still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Maria. And to make matters worse, the center of the earthquake strike is near to where Maria came ashore two years ago.

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How this year changed me...

This year has changed me. The sheer devastation. The people I’ve met. The lives impacted by a hot meal provided by friends like you. I want to do more. I need your help. Please see below. -Gary

As we come to the end of this year, I have been reflecting on all that we’ve seen...

From tornadoes in Alabama to wildfires in California, our teams have literally been coast-to-coast responding to disasters, providing hot meals to those in need.

It became apparent that thousands were still suffering greatly on the Florida Panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, so we went back in March. And then we stayed, all summer and through the fall, serving tens of thousands of meals.

After Hurricane Dorian all but wiped out two entire islands in the Bahamas, we immediately responded. The devastation there was as bad as I have ever seen. Entire communities were leveled! More than 70,000 meals later, Mercy Chefs has played a key role in that nation’s recovery, and now we’re gearing up to greatly expand our efforts next year.

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Empty stares and hollow eyes

The hardest thing about returning during the holidays to a community hit hard by a tornado or hurricane is seeing the empty stares and hollow eyes.

During what should be a time of great joy, people whose lives have been turned upside down by a disaster are still very much living the disaster even weeks, months, and in some cases years after a storm hits.

+ + Smiles are returning...

This week in Florida as we served hot meals to families who are still recovering from Hurricane Michael, I noticed fewer of those empty stares than one year ago. We're starting to see some life come back into the folks here. Slowly, hope is being restored.

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