This story puzzled me, and broke my heart

I was puzzled.... Why did this young boy want a ladder on the outside of his house? --Gary

As you know, last week in Panama City, Mercy Chefs was privileged to serve 4,600 people at a special Back-To-School event for which we had only planned to serve 3,000. But God added the increase to your generosity and we were able to feed every single person, with some left over!

Each time I am in Panama City, I hear story after story of how Hurricane Michael has left a profound impact on this community and the psyche of the people here. The stories that pull at my heart the most come from the children, many of whom are homeless due to the storm and are still struggling with the reality of what happened.  

For example, a young boy came to our "Beacon Of Hope" center with his family for a meal. Since our staff also provides activities for the children, this boy went over to our coloring station where I was standing. First he drew a house. Then, he added a ladder on the outside of the house. I was puzzled, so I asked him why he added the ladder. The boy's reply broke my heart:

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We had food for 3,000, but 4,600 showed up...

We had food for 3,000 people. Over 4,600 showed up. I'm still amazed at what happened next. See below. --Gary

On Thursday, in partnership with the Panama City area school district, Mercy Chefs helped host a special Back-To-School event. We were told to expect 3,000 people. So we prepared our budget and our resources and our staffing to serve 3,000.

But the people kept coming. And coming. And coming.

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3,000 meals tomorrow!

We've been asked to provide 3,000 meals for a Back-To-School event in Panama City tomorrow to help hurting kids get ready for the transition back to the classroom. This is one of the most important events we've taken on here. See below. --Gary

God keeps opening doors for Mercy Chefs to play an even more significant role in the healing and recovery that is taking place on the Florida Panhandle.

As you know, Hurricane Michael devastated this region. Forty percent of the buildings were still uninhabitable months after the storm hit, and an estimated 5,000 children were left without a permanent place to call home. We've been here all summer, primarily to help bridge the gap for these children, many of whom simply have no "dinner table" to go home to.

As the Lord continues to expand this ministry's impact here, I want to invite you to partner with Mercy Chefs in something very exciting that is happening tomorrow.

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School destroyed by flood

When the Arkansas River overflowed its banks in May, the town of Moffett, Oklahoma, was inundated. The river rose to an all-time high of 40 feet and flooded the town in water for days. Just about the entire town was under water, including the Moffett School, which was hit with as much as six feet of floodwaters.

Nearly everything inside the school building was destroyed. One teacher said that they could only salvage a few boxes of materials from decades of teaching children at the school.

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A close call

Barry was a close call. All the forecasts called for massive amounts of rain falling on already flooded regions along the Gulf Coast. Thankfully, the region is breathing a sigh of relief because the storm didn't turn out to be as bad as it could have been.

Yes, there was flooding. A few levees overtopped and there was one small breach, but not the catastrophic flooding that could have taken place. Our Mercy Chefs team was in the region throughout the storm. We monitored the situation as the storm moved inland, where there was the potential for more flooding. Arkansas took a hit, but overall the storm did not require a disaster relief response from Mercy Chefs, and for this we are grateful.

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VIDEO UPDATE from Louisiana

I am on the ground today on Louisiana's Gulf Coast preparing for the impact from Tropical Storm Barry, which I fully expect to become Hurricane Barry overnight.

The forecast has shifted slightly further to the east, which is not good news. As the storm slows, reports are indicating that Barry is gaining strength and more moisture from the unseasonably warm (92 degree) gulf waters.

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Catastrophic flooding expected in Louisiana

Thursday Afternoon:
(In transit to Baton Rouge)

"Barry" is now officially a tropical storm and expected to make landfall in Louisiana this weekend as a Category 1 Hurricane.

As a reminder, Katrina's strength had been reduced to a Category 1 storm by the time it impacted New Orleans, and the vast majority of the damage was as a result of flooding. This storm is setting up as a major flood event across the entire Louisiana coast possibly extending up into Arkansas and Oklahoma. Rain totals will be 10-15 inches, with locally higher amounts possible. 

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New Orleans under water with MAJOR STORM COMING

With New Orleans already under water from 10 inches of rain and a rapidly developing tropical storm getting ready to strike, Mercy Chefs is pre-deploying resources and staff to the region beginning TOMORROW in anticipation of a FULL DEPLOYMENT by the weekend.

+ + "Hurricane" Barry Building...

If you've been watching the news then you know that New Orleans and the entire region is already facing major flooding from immense amounts of rain that have fallen over the past 72 hours. Now, a storm that began as a somewhat ordinary low pressure center in Tennessee before coming down across the Gulf yesterday, has continued to intensify along the Louisiana/Mississippi border.

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My special report to you

First and foremost, thank you so much for your faithful partnership with Mercy Chefs in the first half of this year! Thanks to you, we have seen this ministry expand to meet critical disaster relief needs and provide ongoing support for those who have faced disaster and hardship.

My team has prepared a special e-newsletter we call SURGE that provides a detailed report on the latest activities here at Mercy Chefs, including a feature on our TWO-MILLIONTH MEAL that was served earlier this year.

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How 20 minutes made a huge difference

I’m sure you’re busy. So, I will be quick. I just want to share a brief story with you from our summer project “Beacon of Hope” down in Panama City, Florida …

Last week, a young family of five came to our center for dinner. The young mom looked tired as she walked in with her two daughters while holding her little baby. Hannah, one of our team members, could see the fatigue on her face, so she offered to hold the infant. After a few minutes, the baby was sound asleep in Hannah’s arms, while the young girls began coloring at our craft table.

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