Hurricane Sally made landfall early this morning before dawn near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a CAT-2 storm with 105 mph sustained winds.
This is a very serious storm. The winds, immense rainfall amounts and the storm's slow movement mean Sally will cause widespread damage across coastal Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and very likely to inland areas as well.
Yesterday as I was tracking the storm, the barometric pressure dropped -- usually a sign that a storm is gaining in strength -- even as the wind speeds went down slightly. I was bracing for the storm to intensify. Then overnight, the winds picked up. With some areas already receiving a FOOT of rain and another foot still expected, these winds will cause widespread damage and power outages. Already, over 400,000 people are without power. With emergency power teams from across the country still making repairs in Louisiana in response to Hurricane Laura, yet another massive power outage could prove even more problematic than normal.
Here's how Mercy Chefs is responding...
As I write, we have all our vital equipment for deployment staged and ready to go in nearby Birmingham (AL). Our team has taken the past few days to make any necessary repairs and equip our mobile resources to deploy as soon as possible. Because of the storm's extremely slow path (it is currently moving at just 3 mph), now we wait for the storm to pass.
We could be deploying anywhere from Mobile to Pensacola along the coast. There is also the real possibility of a serious need farther inland due to flooding or possible tornadoes. Fortunately, we have good friends and strong contacts in all the key potential deployment locations.
+ + Yet another test for our nation in 2020
Hurricane Sally will be yet another test for our nation in this very difficult year. I have never seen a hurricane season like this. The Atlantic has been a constantly raging tempest for weeks. We also experienced a massive "derecho" which amounted to an inland hurricane that was hundreds of miles across. And the fires on the West Coast are shattering records with 3.2 million acres already burned.
Our Mercy Chefs teams have been engaged in almost non-stop disaster response for weeks. First in Texas. Then in Iowa. And of course most recently in Louisiana. Quite frankly, my team is weary, but they constantly remind me that we find our strength from another Source! The joy of the Lord is our strength! That's why we are ready and eager to respond as needed.
I fully expect to be mobilizing within the next 24-36 hours -- once the storm passes and the area(s) of greatest need are identified.
For now, PLEASE PRAY for God's mercy on these Gulf coast communities. Pray for protection for those in the path of the storm. And pray for God's wisdom for our entire Mercy Chefs team as we mobilize in response.
Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs
P.S. Near-constant deployment for weeks has been a challenge and drain on our financial resources. That means we are depending on the faithfulness and generosity of friends like you even more as we get ready to deploy in response to Sally. Your gift today is vitally important in equipping us to serve our first meals later this week. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift, and thanks in advance!