A deep sadness hit everyone here yesterday afternoon when unconfirmed reports began circulating that thousands may have died from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Everyone has suspected that was the case. We don't yet know how many people lost their lives, but thousands are still missing. The reality of the crisis this nation is in just went to a new level.
All we can do is help the survivors. Tens of thousands have evacuated here to the Nassau area and desperately need meals. Here at Mercy Chefs, we are overwhelmed by the need (see my message below for details). Today, we'll serve thousands of meals. I just bought the only available commercial oven on the island. It cost $9,100, but I had to move quickly. The need is DOUBLING every day, and I must double and double again our hot meal capacity.
There's no other way to say this -- WE ARE OVERWHELMED BY THE VOLUME AND THE URGENCY OF THE NEED HERE.
Evacuees are FLOODING to Nassau -- reports indicate another 15,000 hurricane victims arrived over the weekend. Yesterday, we served 800 meals. Today just for lunch that nearly DOUBLED to 1,200 meals, but we had requests for 3,000 meals and I'm staring at requests for another 3,000 meals for dinner.Read more
Yesterday I got a first-hand look at the devastation on Grand Bahama Island -- one of the two islands that faced the full force of Hurricane Dorian's Category 5 winds and flooding.
The situation is beyond description -- as bad if not worse than anything I've seen. Just getting to the island is extremely difficult. Most scheduled flights yesterday were cancelled, including multiple flights that were to transport our water purification units. We will try again today. Fortunately, I was able to make it to the island thanks to the Prime Minister, who invited me to fly on his plane. I had an opportunity to share with the Prime Minister about the resources Mercy Chefs can bring to the Bahamas. Doors are opening with leaders here for Mercy Chefs to provide substantial relief, but every step will be a challenge.Read more
The situation here in the Bahamas is very fluid as literally an entire country is in crisis. Everyone we've met has either a relative or friend who was caught in the crossfire of this massive hurricane -- the second largest ever to make landfall in the Atlantic.
All reports indicate that conditions on Abaco Island are even worse than what has been reported on the American news. There is much chaos as thousands are without a place to live, food, or water. As I write, the government is working to restore order on the island so that full relief efforts can get to the people there. Please pray that the unrest will end so that those in desperate need can get relief.Read more
I'm on the ground in the Bahamas and it is very clear that this country is going through perhaps the most difficult crisis in its history.
It has been a whirlwind past 24 hours -- getting flights, securing the first water purification units, moving those units to the airport and on the plane, and then our flight here. Later this evening, our team will be headed to meetings with our key contact here in the Bahamas. Mercy Chefs is coordinating our relief efforts with Bahamian Emergency Management as well as local churches to maximize our effectiveness. As I've noted, we've been asked to focus on "ground zero" of the Category 5 storm's strike zone -- the island of Abaco.Read more
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.Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more