Bahamas: What I’m seeing is ripping my heart apart

The images I am seeing from Abaco and Grand Bahama Island are ripping my heart apart. Seeing the utter devastation on those islands brings back every painful memory I’ve had over the past 13 years of responding to natural disasters. And this may be the worst of all. I am hearing reports from our contacts of great, tragic and unthinkable loss of life. Officials there are just at the beginning stages of assessing the real cost in loss of life and property/infrastructure damage. 

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Update: Complete devastation in Bahamas

Officials in the Bahamas have asked Mercy Chefs to help out at "ground zero" of Dorian's strike. But we must move quickly. See below.  --Gary

I just got off the phone with my contact on the ground in the Bahamas who is working closely with the government to help get relief moving as quickly as possible. Mercy Chefs has been asked to help bring relief to Abaco Island -- literally "ground zero" of Hurricane Dorian's strike.
Abaco got hit with the full force of the Category Five storm. Reports indicate that there may not be a single building left fully intact, and thousands are urgently in need of help.

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Dorian devastates Bahamas; urgent help needed

I have an URGENT REQUEST to help Mercy Chefs respond to Dorian's devastating impact in the Bahamas.

Yesterday, Hurricane Dorian was upgraded to a Category Five storm with sustained wins of 180 MPH and gusts of 222 MPH. While we wait to see how Dorian will impact the mainland U.S., the storm is bombarding the Bahamas. Since Dorian effectively stalled over the Bahamas, the eye and the most destructive winds have been over Grand Bahama Island for hours upon hours.

Early reports indicate the damage is "catastrophic" in the Bahamas with an estimated 13,000 homes damaged or destroyed. There is a great fear that multiple fatalities have occurred. We may not know the full scope of the destruction for days.

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Latest on Dorian: storm track changing

In the past several hours, Dorian has grown into a massive Category 4 hurricane that now has an even more unpredictable path. Best forecasts today have the storm possibly hugging the coast of Florida and turning north for a possible landfall in South Carolina. 

I am currently in Gainesville, Florida. Our Mercy Chefs team is adjusting to the changing conditions. We are moving "The Beast" -- our largest kitchen -- to western South Carolina today to keep it close to what now seems a more likely landfall on the Carolina coast. Given the unpredictable potential path of the storm, we will keep our second kitchen in Birmingham, Alabama, so we can respond quickly should Florida receive a direct hit.

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Update: Dorian now CAT 4 projected

The projections for Dorian are worsening by the hour. The storm has already been upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane and is now expected to begin impacting the Florida east coast over the Labor Day weekend before making landfall as a Category 4. But it gets worse.

The models currently call for the storm to slow down significantly as it approaches the Florida coast. If that happens, we could see epic flooding as Florida gets bombarded with massive amounts of rain, combined with storm surge, combined with unusually high tides due to the new moon "king tide." Either the flooding or the wind damage could be catastrophic. If Florida is hit by both, Dorian could be truly devastating.

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Hurricane Dorian update

After a near miss with Puerto Rico, Hurricane Dorian is now strengthening over the Caribbean with nearly all the projected paths taking this storm over the southeast United States coast as a major hurricane.

Dorian is now officially forecasted to make landfall as a Category 4 storm and could be the largest hurricane to hit central Florida in decades. There are many factors coming into play indicating the potential for rapid intensification, including unusually warm waters, high oceanic heat content values, and very low wind shear. On top of all this, an exceptionally high "king tide" from a new moon this weekend will cause the base water level on the Florida coast to be considerably higher than normal just as the storm hits.

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One of the most amazing stories I've seen

I've been sharing with you about our current need to finish the rebuild of Mercy Chefs' kitchen in Haiti that was destroyed by fire this spring.

It's difficult for me to communicate just how AMAZING this work has been for nearly a decade. In all my time of ministry, I've never seen anything like it, especially considering that we are talking about Haiti which is one of the most difficult countries in the world to accomplish anything!

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Haiti fire critical deadline

I trust you saw my email from earlier this week (below) as we gear up to FINISH our kitchen in Haiti that was destroyed by fire this Spring.

Thanks to friends like you, we are very close to finishing Phase One and having the structure completed. But now, we are facing a time crunch and a critical deadline. Phase One will be completed in a few weeks and the kitchen will sit EMPTY until we can purchase and install the kitchen equipment.

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Haiti fire update

As I'm sure you recall, this spring Mercy Chefs' kitchen in Haiti was destroyed by a fire. The kitchen was a total loss. 
It tore at my heart to hear that the children from the orphanage actually ran in the direction of the fire to offer their help because this was their kitchen! (Of course, they were protected from the fire.) 

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In just two weeks...

As I write, our Mercy Chefs team on the Florida Panhandle is transitioning to the next major phase of our redeployment to help this community recover from the devastating Category Five hurricane last fall.

Beginning in just two weeks, our team will move from our summer "Beacon Of Hope" efforts to a special outreach to provide meals and support to the most at-risk kids in this community. As I've noted, an estimated 5,000 children were suddenly left homeless as a result of Hurricane Michael. Many are still without a permanent place to sleep. As these kids return to school, we've been asked to partner with the school district to ensure these kids who represent the most vulnerable in this community have reliable, hot, nutritious meals.
We are also working on educational programs while we continue to support work team still assisting with reconstruction efforts.

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