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.
+ + Situation desperate
That's because the situation is grim. There is no power or reliable water on Grand Bahama Island and the best prediction on when power will be restored is December 1. As a result, a physical kitchen on the island for Mercy Chefs to use as a base of operations is not a short-term option. So we are getting creative because thousands of people desperately need water and food.
Currently, we are working on a plan that, in conjunction with a U.S. partner, would place one of our mobile kitchens and a refrigerated truck on a barge. The barge -- self contained with generators and everything we need to produce meals -- would then be anchored off the coast of Grand Bahama to serve as a distribution point for meals to various parts of the island. This is obviously uncharted territory for us and there are many details to still work out, but the need is desperate and we must get creative.
As you can see, the scope of Mercy Chefs' efforts here is expanding rapidly. Lord willing, our first water purification units will be bringing fresh water to Grand Bahama today. As I noted to you on Friday, I must DOUBLE our initial deployment to the front lines of the storm's strike with more water purification units and more resources to bring food and water to those hardest hit. That also means it DOUBLES our immediate financial need.
I'm turning to faithful friends like you for help. We need an urgent influx of funds over the next 24-48 hours so we can respond to this desperate humanitarian crisis on the front lines of Dorian's strike. Will you help me DOUBLE our deployment of water purification units and expand our other efforts to reach those hardest hit while we begin serving meals in the Bahamas? Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to help us bring relief to hurricane victims and continue other vital efforts:
+ + Even worse on Abaco
As bad as things are on Grand Bahama, conditions are worse on Abaco which has been so impacted that it appears the plan is to evacuate everyone off the island. Thousands are waiting to leave and the situation there is dire. Family members are hosting evacuees throughout Nassau and there are shelters opening as the need continues to grow.
That means the Mercy Chefs kitchen in Nassau is even more critical. Yesterday, a team of local volunteers partnered with us to thoroughly clean the kitchen which had sat dormant for six months. TODAY we plan to serve our first meals out of the kitchen -- about 1,000 in all! We need some additional equipment that will increase our capacity to multiple thousands of meals hopefully within the next week. I'll be sharing more with you on this in the coming days.
For today, please PRAY for the hurricane victims. Pray for safe passage of our water purification units so we can get fresh water flowing. Pray for wisdom and favor so that we can reach thousands of people with food and fresh water.
THANK YOU for your prayers and support! God bless.
Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs
P.S. Seeing the damage here has been shocking. The devastation alone makes logistics very complex. Add to that the fact that this is a nation of islands and the complexity increases exponentially. I know many friends have already donated. THANK YOU SO MUCH! If you can give again, this is an absolutely critical time. If you haven't yet supported our efforts to help hurricane victims in the Bahamas, please do so today! Go here and thanks in advance for your support:
P.P.S. I'm so grateful to the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis (picture below in the navy shirt), for providing transportation and access to Grand Bahama Island. Mercy Chefs has extraordinary favor with government officials here. But now there is much work to do! Thanks for your partnership.