We're headed back to Florida, and I need your help.
Here's what happened.
Ever since we left, I have been in close contact with city officials in Panama City, Calloway and Lynn Haven, and they have been asking us to return and help soften the blow of the ongoing recovery during the holidays. The holidays are the toughest time of all for folks who have lost everything or are still in the midst of extensive repairs -- as most people in these communities are!
+ + Why I must go back...Read more
On Thursday, I shared with you about our heartache of leaving Florida after more than three weeks on the ground following one of the most devastating hurricanes we have witnessed. But our physical and human resources were simply exhausted, and we were still dealing with a financial shortfall from this deployment, and especially from our final push of 15,000 meals this week.
Well, I heard from my staff that many dear friends stepped forward to ensure we met our needs for this final week of deployment. In fact, the generosity of Mercy Chefs partners exceeded our needs for this week, allowing us to apply funds to the overall cost of serving these 100,000 meals here.
After more than three weeks on the ground and having served over 100,000 meals, our human and physical resources were simply exhausted. Even this week, we saw long lines of people waiting for hot meals from our Mercy Chefs team.
And the people have been so grateful for our hot meals and ministry.
We're still receiving comments about the quality of the food we were able to serve! Hot, nutritious meals. Fresh salads and vegetables. REAL FOOD at a time when many had gone days without a hot meal, never mind a meal prepared by a master chef!
But leaving was very, very hard....Read more
Many people with pressing physical needs have been coming to us in recent days. Just yesterday, seven people came to us for a meal using a walker. We prayed for a woman and her son. They didn't know what to do as she was on her last oxygen tank, and many medical facilities are still closed.
We've also seen family after family with young kids coming for meals.
It's been puzzling to say the least...
I can say that I have not seen anything like this in 12 years of serving with Mercy Chefs. But what's puzzling is, the national media stopped covering this disaster days ago. Yet the people here are still struggling greatly and the human suffering is heartbreaking.
From Friday through Sunday, Mercy Chefs served about 18,000 meals as demand didn't let up at all. Our meals went out across the region, including to one apartment community that was devastated by the storm. Roofs ripped off. Windows blown out. It was so bad that the city condemned the buildings, but the residents keep coming back because they simply have no place else to go.Read more
We need a FINANCIAL MIRACLE.
A few hours ago, yet another church contacted me -- this time asking for 6,000 meals over the weekend. That's IN ADDITION to the 15,000 meals we already had slated.
The church is in Springfield, near Tyndall Air Force Base that was leveled by the hurricane and due north of devastated Mexico Beach. Their volunteers have been trying to keep up but are exhausted. And they are out of resources. Also, more and more people are coming every day for a hot meal. It seems there is no end. Here's the problem...Read more
Today, in addition to our team providing about 6,000 meals distributed through multiple locations here in the Panama City area, I spent much of my day meeting with local leaders here who are asking us to do more.
+ + More requests for help...
For example, I met with three local pastors who are doing everything they can to meet the urgent needs in their communities -- and coming up short. They need assistance, especially with providing hot meals.Read more
Please watch Gary LeBlanc's report on conditions on Florida's Panhandle, and go here to make your tax-deductible gift to support Mercy Chefs!
From: Panama City Beach
The kids here break my heart. It feels as if we are feeding more and more children. So many are coming that we began creating special "kids meals" for the children in an effort to brighten their day.
When I look into the eyes of the young children, it hurts to see their lost little faces still confused by what's just happened. Officials here say the schools could be closed another several weeks. Some of the school buildings will simply have to be bulldozed. Meanwhile, we are serving a stream of kids in these communities.Read more