Ann and I are back in the Bahamas as we work to launch the next important phase of our work here to reach the hardest-hit folks on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands who still need a reliable source of relief supplies and resources.
The stories continue to hit us right in the heart. One of the evacuees you have been helping to provide hot meals to is Kevel (pictured on the left). Wanda, one of our team members from Puerto Rico, was able to talk with Kevel to hear her story and pray for their family.
Kevel, her husband and five children are from Abaco, but were forced to evacuate to Nassau and essentially leave everything behind. They had been staying with a family they had never met before, but the gas at the house was shut off. So they began visiting one of Mercy Chefs' feeding locations twice every day. They had nowhere else to turn. Thanks to you, we were able to provide Kevel and her family hot meals day after day. Like many here, their family's crisis is far from over. They are again looking for housing. So many still need help.
A report released earlier today noted that 6,000 homes have been documented to be flooded here in the Beaumont, Texas area where Mercy Chefs is currently serving meals to disaster victims and volunteers. Many of these homes have been hit for a second time in just two years.
Yesterday, we were delivering meals in one neighborhood that was very hard hit. Most had to be rescued from the flood waters unless they had a second floor. One man we met, Mr. Broussard, is an 82-year-old owner of a local barbecue restaurant who has been delivering 100 meals to the homeless every week for years.
He lived in his home for 50 years with no flooding until Harvey flooded his home two years ago and Imelda hit him last week. It was our great privilege to return the favor of his generosity and share a meal with him as he mucked out his home.
I just met a woman who shared with us a story that really drove home the importance of our work here in Texas...
Just two years ago, her family lost just about everything to Hurricane Harvey. She even lost her mother from a heart attack during the storm. Their home had been flooded and just recently they had been able to finish the final repairs.
Then the rains started last week. And they didn't stop until nearly four feet of rain had fallen, creating the second 1,000-year flood for her community in the past two years!Read more
These are the times when we need our faithful Mercy Chefs partners to help us in a big way. Mercy Chefs is fully engaged in two major deployments. We'll serve 25,000 meals this week, and I need your help. Please see below. --Gary
Yesterday, I joined our Mercy Chefs team here in Beaumont, Texas, where the flooding from last week's tropical storm is the worst they have seen in history.
The major Interstate is still closed and entire neighborhoods have been overwhelmed by floodwaters. I never get used to seeing home after home with mountains of debris stacked on the curb representing all or most of a family's earthly possessions. Floodwaters are filthy, and they destroy everything in their path.
While Mercy Chefs team members continue to meet the need and serve thousands of meals in the Bahamas, I'm writing to let you know that we are also deploying to Texas in response to the overwhelming flooding from tropical storm Imelda.
+ + Worse than Harvey!
I almost couldn't believe it when we started getting reports that in some areas of Texas the flooding is worse than Hurricane Harvey. With as much as FOUR FEET of rain hitting coastal Texas, there have already been more than 1,000 high water rescues and thousands more have fled their homes. The city of Beaumont, Texas has seen 250 such rescues and has received 270 emergency evacuation requests. Our contacts in Beaumont say it is the worst flooding they have seen, even worse than in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.Read more
Here are a few more images from what I saw on Abaco Island -- the hardest hit island in the Bahamas.
Even as we were flying in, it was clear that the destruction extended as far as the eye could see...
Today is DAY NINE of Mercy Chefs providing hot meals, fresh produce and vital supplies to Hurricane Dorian evacuees here in the Bahamas, and the need isn't letting up.
In fact, hundreds of evacuees are still arriving every day, putting even more strain on the over-capacity shelters as well as the locals who are opening their homes to the evacuees. Today, we're adding two new churches as partners in our distribution network, which has been the key in getting hot meals to the families who are taking in five, ten or more hurricane victims. Just about everyone here is taking in evacuees.Read more
With thousands of evacuees still pouring in, the conditions in the shelters are getting more pressurized.
It tears at my heart. First off, just about every person we are serving was forced to evacuate because their home and just about all their belongings had been destroyed. That alone makes every day a battle just to survive. The local paper is reporting that thousands are still missing. That means many of those who are receiving hot meals from Mercy Chefs already lost a loved one or close friend or know someone who is still missing two weeks after the storm.Read more
As I write, the Bahamas is bracing for yet another storm that could quickly develop into a tropical storm. Unbelievably, the storm is following almost an identical path as Hurricane Dorian and is expected to bring high winds and rain to areas that are still very much in crisis. Flights are again being shut down and we are preparing for localized flooding. There is great concern for Grand Bahama and Abaco, where the prospect of more rain and more winds would just add to the devastation.
Everyone here is greatly concerned. We feel it everywhere we go, and especially as we are providing hot meals to the evacuees. And with more evacuees still coming to Nassau, tensions continue to mount.Read more
As I've been sharing, the situation here in the Bahamas with THOUSANDS of hurricane evacuees is almost overwhelming. More and more are coming every day, and our team here has been struggling to do everything we can to get hot meals to as many people as possible.
Today, we had a breakthrough. My team was able to secure a tilt skillet that will greatly expand our daily meal capacity. The skillet is being transported to Florida today, and we hope it will arrive here in the Bahamas as soon as tomorrow.
But here's what that means...Read more