Mercy Chefs serving up warm meals and smiles to Alabama tornado victims

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - People across the state of Alabama are working to rebuild their lives after a tornado ripped through the state.

Authorities say 23 people have died as a result of the powerful storm.

While communities prepare for the upcoming funerals, a local organization is making sure they have warm meals.

The non-profit, Mercy Chefs, traveled to Lee County, Alabama, this week.

Since arriving, they have fed hundreds of people with a home-cooked meal - and they don't plan on leaving anytime soon.

Volunteers say amazing things happen when people share a warm meal and a smile, so they will stay as long as they are needed.

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

Founder Gary LeBlanc says it's been an emotional journey so far, but one of the hardest days is still to come.

During this trip, they will be catering funerals for people in the community.

"One of the funerals next week that we're [catering] is going to swell to over 400 people alone. It's for a family that lost seven members of one family," LeBlanc says.

Even after the community is back on their feet, Mercy Chefs will travel back to Alabama to help with rebuilding and long-term recovery.

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