Portsmouth non-profit in Florida to help with Hurricane Dorian aftermath

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Mercy Chefs has left their new permanent home in Hampton Roads to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

The faith-based, non-profit disaster relief organization has been traveling to help those in need since 2006.

Photo: Mercy Chefs/NOAA

After hearing about the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, Chef Gary LeBlanc and his team headed to Florida. There, they - along with two 300 gallon-per-hour water purification units - are waiting to get to the Bahamas.

"They are saying it’s utter destruction - that there are just not buildings left," Chef LeBlanc said via Skype on Tuesday. "You have a whole island, whole communities where everybody has been affected. Every building, every structure has been damaged."

While LeBlanc waits to get to the Bahamas, he has been busy planning ways to help those affected.

"In the Bahamas, we are going to start with the most critical need, and that’s going to be water," explained LeBlanc. "We will take our water purification units with us. We will be able to do up to 900 gallons an hour of fresh water from contaminated sources."

Once the water cleaning system is up, they will begin their next phase: Feeding people restaurant quality food.

"We will immediately begin looking for a kitchen we can renovate or remodel quickly and take on the feeding need for the people."

Chef LeBlanc doesn't know how long he will be staying in the Bahamas but plans to stay there even as Hurricane Dorian begins its move along the United States' east coast. As of Tuesday afternoon, it looks like Hurricane Dorian could bring flooding and strong winds to Hampton Roads, where Mercy Chefs just opened their permanent home in Portsmouth last week.

But, they're already preparing for Dorian.

"Our managing staff in Virginia is already coordinating with our local emergency management operators. So, even back home in Virginia and along the Carolina coast and in Florida and in the Bahamas, Mercy Chefs are hard at work."

To help Mercy Chefs continue helping people affected by hurricanes, visit their website. Chef LeBlanc says their needs include prayers, skilled volunteers and financial donations.

The Hampton Roads Red Cross chapter is also collecting donations to help those affected. If you would like to donate to their efforts, visit their website.

Click here for more Dorian coverage.

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