Hurricane Michael: Horrific

The devastation is horrendous. It's hard to find something, anything that wasn't impacted by this deadly Category 4 storm. Almost everything here has been wiped out. Infrastructure will need to be rebuilt. We're hearing it will take at least a week before power is restored. Along one major highway, all the utility poles are down. We've provided meals for electrical workers who are working all day and well into the night to restore electricity.

It's not just the beachfront homes that have been affected; inland areas have been hit hard by Michael, too. Some people whose homes were completely destroyed weren't even in an evacuation zone. We're still looking for ways to get meals into the Mexico Beach area, where search-and-rescue teams are still working to find survivors and victims. We've heard that only about 20 percent of the city's residents evacuated. Most just didn't have time to leave. A large number of people are still missing. The worst may not be over for this battered and broken community, as the casualty numbers continue to go up.

+ + Mercy Chefs will soon be able to provide 18,000 daily meals!

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Catastrophic

Hurricane Florence is the kind of storm that people need to pay attention to. The words being used to describe it include: Catastrophic. Total destruction. Life threatening. Everyone within the projected path of Florence needs to take this hurricane VERY seriously.

In just 36 hours, its wind speeds doubled from 70 to 140 miles per hour. Forecasters are predicting the storm's intensity to increase even more before likely making landfall along the North Carolina coast on Thursday or Friday. It's expected to be the largest storm to hit the East Coast since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. But by the time Florence comes ashore, it could be even worse than that Category 5 storm. Attached is a satellite image of what the hurricane might look like when it makes landfall.

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"An imminent disaster"

Hurricane Florence intensified overnight and this morning, so it's now a dangerous "Category 4" storm. Currently located off the East Coast of the United States, this life-threatening weather system is expected to intensify even more, as it approaches warmer water, and make landfall later this week. A weather forecaster I know and trust, Alan Lammey, recently posted this on his Facebook page:

"If you live in the South Carolina/North Carolina/Virginia area, you should be preparing for an imminent disaster to the area. You should also be making serious plans to leave the area" (emphasis added).

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"Lucky Day" in the midst of fire disaster

Yesterday, our team took part in what is called an "ash-out." 

It's when family members return to the ashes and rubble of their homes, often for the first time, to begin sorting through whatever fragments of memories might remain from their burned down homes.

Every time we see the reality of disaster this close up, it's as if time stops. Seeing home after home reduced to ash and barely recognizable scraps of belongings takes your breath away. You don't even want to speak.

Something else always happens. We see hope in the midst of disaster. Which brings us to the "lucky day."

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Wildfire doubles in size

The California wildfire crisis continues to expand, and we are still two weeks away from what experts consider the peak wildfire season.

The Carr fire that has devastated the city of Redding (where Mercy Chefs is headquartered) is still less than 50 percent contained and now has consumed over 150,000 acres. The impact on this region is nothing less than shocking. You simply cannot escape the smoke as the air quality has made it hazardous to even go outside without a mask. And more than 1,500 homes and buildings have been destroyed.

Another massive fire more than DOUBLED in size over the weekend and is now the second largest wildfire in state history. Experts fear it could threaten thousands more homes and buildings in the coming days.

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(Video) California Wildfire Devastation

Our Mercy Chefs team just posted this video revealing the shocking devastation of the California wildfires, and how friends like you are helping to bring relief to those who are suffering.

We need your help to meet the urgent need. Help us serve THOUSANDS of meals to victims and volunteers! Go here to make your tax-deductible gift!

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CA Wildfire Emergency Response!

Mercy Chefs has deployed to northern California to provide emergency relief as fast-moving wildfires are devastating entire communities. Tens of thousands of people have been been evacuated and hundreds of structures have burned to the ground. 

We are currently serving THOUSANDS of meals and urgently need your help! Go here to make your tax-deductible gift!

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Ridiculous and unacceptable!

In its own report this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) admitted that the government needs "to better serve survivors before, during and after disasters." The top FEMA administrator also added that "the unprecedented scale and rapid succession" of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, along with historic wildfires in California,"stretched response and recovery capabilities at all levels of government."

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WATCH: Puerto Rico Video Update

Mercy Chefs' founder and president Gary LeBlanc recorded this video update on July 14 in Puerto Rico. Our solar-power initiative is moving ahead as scheduled, and we've been so touched by the people we're helping on the island this summer. The need is still so great, and Mercy Chefs is doing what we can to help. Please take a few minutes to see what your incredible caring and generosity is helping us accomplish in Puerto Rico.

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Humbled By Gratitude

We've met so many wonderful people in Puerto Rico this week. It's such a blessing and a privilege to be able to help them in their time of need. On Thursday, the team and I traveled high into the mountains again. So many people here are STILL without power, ten months after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit. It's heartbreaking to see how difficult life is on the island for so many of our fellow Americans.

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