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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Sobering reality here

I just saw MORE EVIDENCE that Hurricane Michael -- the second worst hurricane ever to hit the mainland U.S. -- has been all-but forgotten. A new poll conducted of Florida residents "would do nothing" to help their fellow Floridians with relief, and 75% say they will not donate funds to help.

+ + Sobering reality...

This despite the fact that the need here is immense. There is still a reported 72 MILLION TONS of debris, creating a massive health, fire and safety hazard. And the kids are suffering the most.

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"it rains in my home."

I want to share one of many "God moments" with you that happened recently in Panama City, a city still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

Our first night at Mercy Chefs' Beacon of Hope center in Panama City, a little boy of 8 or 9 years old, Jakar, came for a meal by himself. We told him that he needed a parent to come fill out his paperwork. He looked at me with a blank stare and said, "I can't bring anyone." Something about this young boy shook me to my core. He didn't have anyone. He was hungry. He had been left on his own, for whatever reason, and needed my help. We served him a hot, chef crafted, nutritious meal.

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Man-made disaster

Seeing what these kids write on the stones breaks my heart.

As you know, Mercy Chefs has been on-site at the Lonesome Dove Ranch providing hot meals to abused and neglected foster children along with the staff and volunteers here. Each week-long camp concludes with a very emotional gathering in which the children are provided a small white stone and given the opportunity to symbolically write on it something they want to leave in God's hands.

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"These kids wrecked me"

We're in our second week of feeding underprivileged at-risk foster kids at Lonesome Dove Ranch in Texas. Mercy Chefs has been part of this annual outreach for four years, and this year we helped complete the permanent kitchen that will enable this ministry to reach even more hurting kids.

+ + "These kids wrecked me"

But the kids aren't the only ones touched by our efforts to feed body and soul. This is also a life-changing experience for the workers on site. Here's what one of our volunteers shared about her experience:

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Amazing things in Texas

As I've been sharing with you, this Spring and Summer Mercy Chefs is helping launch four standalone kitchen projects that together will provide thousands of meals this summer and beyond. While these projects have been under way, we also were recently deployed in Ohio in response to the "swarm" of tornadoes that struck the Dayton area. It's been a busy several weeks!

I'm thrilled to report that our work in Texas with the Lonesome Dove Ranch is already making a difference this summer. Lonesome Dove is the home to an amazing ministry that is providing summer camps to disadvantaged foster children in Texas, many who have faced unspeakable difficulties in their young lives.

+ + Amazing encounters for hurting kids...

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