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.
Now, communities from Galveston (TX) to Lafayette (LA) are under a hurricane warning. Already, 750,000 people have received mandatory evacuation orders. If the storm moves ever so slightly to the west, Houston and its 7 million residents will be in the target zone.
+ + Mercy Chefs is getting ready
This is expected to be a massive storm with devastating CAT-3 winds, an unsurvivable storm surge and possible rain inundation and flooding that could extend for miles inland. Critical areas of need could be 50 or 100 miles apart. That's why I have chosen to mobilize two entire teams so we can be ready for whatever hits.
Ann and I are heading up our response preparations. We arrived in New Orleans yesterday and a Mercy Chefs team with one of our mobile kitchens will be joining us as we stage just outside the expected strike zone -- possibly Baton Rogue. A second Mercy Chefs team and mobile kitchen will be coming down from Oklahoma and waiting in the Dallas area. This way we will be able to mobilize our resources for either side of the expected strike area.
As our teams get ready, would you consider helping with a special gift right now to support our relief efforts? This will be our third major storm response in just a month -- in addition to our unprecedented relief efforts for the coronavirus crisis. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift:
Of course, our hope and our prayer is that this storm will dissipate and cause minimal or even no damage. For me personally, it has been a bit surreal being in New Orleans in the week leading up to the 15th anniversary of Katrina. When that storm hit, I saw firsthand the urgent need for high-quality meals during a disaster. Mercy Chefs was birthed out of the heartbreak I felt when that storm struck the Louisiana coast.
Now, we are bracing for another massive storm, and it is bearing down on communities that have been hit hard in recent years. Mercy Chefs has deployed two times in the past to Beaumont, which is near the center of the expected landfall area. Port Arthur. Galveston. Lake Charles. Lafayette. Hundreds of thousands of people are in the path.
Please pray. Pray that those in the path will listen to the evacuation orders and emergency declarations. Pray that the storm will lessen. And pray for our team as we get ready to serve as needed.
Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs