Portsmouth-based group Mercy Chefs gears up to serve thousands of meals during Hurricane Florence

NORFOLK, Va. - Mercy Chefs say they are usually the ones running right toward danger to serve people in need, but this time they are both the victim and the responder as Hurricane Florence makes her way in this direction.

“We’ve had some unique experiences trying to prepare our own homes and get our own families out of harm’s way," says founder of Mercy Chefs, Gary LeBlanc.

The local group – whose mission is to feed high quality chef prepared meals to victims, volunteers and first responders -  says their team will be taking care of two shelters in Norfolk: the Emergency Operations Center and The 911 Call Center through the weekend, as well as anyone else who is in need.

LeBlanc says it’s a mission that is dear. He decided to start it after Hurricane Katrina hit his hometown.

“I was recognizing people that were left on the overpasses. I got angry because there was no sanitation, no time and temperature control, no food safety. There was no passion," says LeBlanc.

Vowing to always help and serve others gourmet meals, Mercy Chefs say they are prepared for Hurricane Florence - even when and if this area loses electricity.

“We’ve had to do things we’ve never done before, like lunch meat platters and sandwiches, and for Friday night dinner we’re going to do a big pasta salad with chicken and mozzarella in it so that the people have fresh food to eat," says Kristin Macan with Mercy Chefs.

“All of our Mercy Chefs sites have backup generators. Our mobile kitchens [are] well-equipped and can operate independently with no power or water," says LeBlanc.

No matter how, Mercy Chefs says the show will still go on. So the old saying holds true: During a disaster you will always find people helping people.

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