ALERT: Laura upgraded to "unsurvivable" CAT-4 Storm!

This afternoon the National Hurricane Center UPGRADED Hurricane Laura to a "CATASTROPHIC" CAT-4 storm with potentially "unsurvivable storm surge." From the NHC bulletin:

And this...

Mercy Chefs is mobilizing TWO ENTIRE TEAMS to get ready. Any help you can provide right now will make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in our ability to quickly and most effectively respond. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift, and click here for more information from my previous update.

I'll provide more updates as the storm progresses.



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Latest on Hurricane Laura

Wednesday A.M. from New Orleans

I'm writing to you from New Orleans which is just outside the expected strike zone for Hurricane Laura -- what is now a rapidly developing hurricane that could grow to a Category Four storm and come ashore along the Texas/Louisiana border as a powerful CAT 3 monster.

This is a fast moving storm that is expected to bring 11-14 feet of storm surge and major wind damage to an area that has been hit hard in recent years. Unfortunately, Laura is following a pattern and a track that makes a major strike highly probable. About 70% of the most devastating hurricanes experienced the rapid intensification effect that we are now seeing with Laura. The storm already has brought deadly flooding to the Caribbean. At least 23 have reportedly died and that number could increase as countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic begin their recovery.

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Heartwarming thanks

Our time in Cedar Rapids has been one of the most unexpected and rewarding disaster deployments in our history. Unexpected in that none of us had ever experienced the aftermath of "derecho" winds -- effectively an inland CAT-2 hurricane that struck across hundreds of miles with the warning of a tornado. Rewarding because we have seen firsthand how good people can band together to bring relief when and where it is needed most.

+ + "Thank you for providing hot meals"

Today, our team is hard at work serving meals in Cedar Rapids
as the time for this deployment winds down. For nearly all the community, power has been restored which is the first key ingredient to recovery from a storm. Through yesterday dinner, Mercy Chefs had served over 30,000 meals to hurting families in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities. It's amazing how the generosity of friends like you has helped us bless so many who were hit by this storm.

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We just heard about a CRITICAL NEED in Iowa

Wednesday Late Afternoon from Cedar Rapids

We just heard about a CRITICAL NEED impacting the most vulnerable in this community. Please see below for details, and go here to help sponsor meals for Iowa victims. -- Gary

Far too often, those who are in the most need and are the most vulnerable somehow get overlooked. On Tuesday, we learned about an apartment community for the elderly and disabled here in Cedar Rapids that had been WITHOUT POWER SINCE LAST MONDAY -- more than a week!

+ + Seniors with special needs urgently require help

Some EMTs who were responding to emergency calls in that community realized that these folks were facing a very serious food crisis.
In addition to not having reliable access to food, these people have special dietary restrictions that make meeting their needs even more challenging. So the EMTs reached out to Mercy Chefs to see if we could help.

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Need help. Costs and need are OVERWHELMING

Tuesday P.M. from Cedar Rapids

We need help in an urgent way over the next 24 hours. Please go here to sponsor meals for Iowa storm victims, and see below. -- Gary

Here in Cedar Rapids, both the need and the costs have been overwhelming. We served 5,500 meals yesterday and before we close the kitchen this evening, we'll serve another 6,000 meals. But 6,000 meals feels like about 10,000 meals right now because the COVID crisis has caused food costs to SKYROCKET. Here are the grocery receipts from just the past two days:

Everything is at least 15-20% more expensive across the board, with some items being 50% more than we have ever seen. Other key "staples" are unavailable or in short supply, forcing my team to get even more creative so we can reach the most people with the best possible meals.

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I still can't get over the damage (new Iowa video)

Chef Gary bringing dinner to one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids, IA. The devastation is unbelievable. The Heartland needs you!

Posted by Mercy Chefs on Monday, August 17, 2020

We served over 5,000 meals yesterday and I'm expecting we will exceed that today. I joined our team in delivering meals to one of the hardest hit communities. I still can't get over the damage. Debris is everywhere. Many homes are condemned. People are still picking up the pieces one week later.

We need help today and every day this week. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to help Mercy Chefs provide hot meals to Iowa storm victims, and see below in case you missed my message from yesterday.

God bless,


Click here for more information from our previous update.

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Iowa update: no power; families living in tents

Monday from Cedar Rapids

Pictures are starting to circulate of families living in tents in their own back yards. So many people here are still without power that they are resorting to serious measures just to make it through. And we're hearing that some areas may not see power restored for two more weeks.

The neighborhoods here look just like they were hit by a bad hurricane.
This derecho was a MAJOR DISASTER -- the equivalent of a CAT 2 hurricane. Perhaps because it was so unusual, the national media has mostly missed it. Just now, the word is getting out.

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Iowa video report for you

Sunday Midday from Cedar Rapids:

This is proving to be a very busy and challenging weekend here in Cedar Rapids. Our equipment and staff are at max capacity providing wonderful hot meals for thousands of Iowans who were hit by this shocking storm earlier in the week.

I've prepared a video report for you:

Chef Gary with a report from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Please pray for our friends in the Heartland as they recover from this devastating storm.

Posted by Mercy Chefs on Saturday, August 15, 2020

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Critical need: AT MAX CAPACITY in Iowa now

Saturday Morning from Cedar Rapids

The situation is critical. Please help us provide thousands of meals to storm victims this weekend, and share this message with friends who may want to support our neighbors in Iowa. --Gary

This has been one of the most shocking deployments in all my history.

+ + As if a hurricane ripped through the heartland

As we were driving into Cedar Rapids, everywhere I looked it was as if a CAT 2 hurricane had ripped through America's heartland -- all with virtually no warning. The entire area has been impacted. One-hundred-year-old trees have been snapped off halfway up the trunk like twigs. Other trees are uprooted at the root ball.
Large masses of debris have been blown 50 or 100 feet away, into houses and cars. Downed power lines are everywhere -- the power is going to be out for a while. Piles of debris on every street. And miles and miles of corn, the very lifeblood of this entire region, flattened -- all in the same direction, by the 100+ mph Derecho winds that lasted more than an hour.

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Entire city WITHOUT POWER; first meals TODAY

Friday Midday from Cedar Rapids

Imagine having just 25 minutes of warning that essentially a hurricane was going to hit your city?

That's what happened here in Cedar Rapids. This derecho storm formed quite suddenly and quickly swept across the state of Iowa, giving residents here less than a half-hour's notice. With gusts as high as 145 mph, the storm lasted for more than an hour and encompassed the entire town. 

As of this morning virtually all of Cedar Rapids is still without power. Countless trees are down. Power lines are strewn across the city. No street lights are operational. Hospitals are running on generator power. And the corn crop which is the lifeblood of Iowa, has been decimated.

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