The reality of the size and scope of the tornado that went through Chattanooga on Easter Sunday is just now starting to come into focus. Based on the wreckage it left behind, it is now clear that this EF-3 tornado was a massive 1,500 yards wide (8/10 of a mile) and left a path at least nine miles long. Local officials are calling the damage "unbelievable" and the entire community is still in shock as the death toll in this area has risen to ten.
Our Mercy Chefs team is arriving throughout the day. Chefs are coming in from Washington, D.C. and Texas. We have a kitchen crew coming from Alabama. The mobile kitchen just arrived (pictured). We are setting up our site at a local church that reached out to us based on our work in Nashville earlier this year. Our location is just a few miles from the hardest hit area of East Chattanooga called East Brainerd. The governor and his wife toured the area today.
The situation now appears to be worse than the initial reports. Like everywhere else in the country, this community has been locked down in response to the coronavirus crisis. Then, very suddenly, this massive tornado hit.
This is why Mercy Chefs exists -- to partner with local churches and those in the local community to bring hot meals to disaster workers and victims who are having to take their first steps on the long road to recovery.
We will be serving meals starting TOMORROW. With our team already helping to provide tens of thousands of meals in response to the coronavirus crisis, we need your help as much right now as ever.
Will you help Mercy Chefs bring hope and hot meals to disaster victims and volunteers in response to these massive tornadoes that struck on Easter Sunday while we continue other efforts? Go here to make your tax-deductible gift:
Mercy Chefs is also mobilizing resources to help Seneca, South Carolina -- another town that was hit by tornadoes this past weekend. This one small town was struck by three tornados -- an EF-1, an EF-2, and an EF-3. One of our Mercy Chefs staff members comes from this town and she says the community is in shock. We are arranging food distributions at two locations in Seneca starting as soon as possible.
This is all in addition to our COVID-19 outreaches which are growing by the day. We are now reaching folks from 16 locations, and I expect this will continue to grow. Just the COVID outreaches will help provide 30,000-40,000 meals. Our deployment in Chattanooga will add thousands more.
Please pray for our Mercy Chefs team. We are stretched in ways we've never been stretched before, but I believe the Lord has prepared us "for such as time as this." Pray for wisdom, protection, and strength for our team as we meet so many urgent needs.
And pray for our nation! America seems to be under attack in every possible way. Pray for God's mercy and healing.
Thank you and God bless,
Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs
P.S. These were very serious tornadoes. I've been told that 120,000 people will be without power at least through the weekend. Both cell and regular phone service have been cut off in many areas. And the loss of life has been shocking. Mercy Chefs will be providing meals from our base just a few miles from one of the hardest hit areas. Please help. Go here:
P.P.S. As I noted, our COVID-19 outreaches continue to grow. We've expanded to 16 locations across the country, and our local partners are amazed at the quality of the food. One of our partners in the Orlando area contacted me to say, "I cannot believe how beautiful this product is and how many senior citizens who are shut-ins that this is going to bless in the north part of our county who haven’t gotten any food since this crisis started." Go here for the latest updates on our coronavirus crisis response.