I have an URGENT REQUEST to help Mercy Chefs respond to Dorian's devastating impact in the Bahamas.

Yesterday, Hurricane Dorian was upgraded to a Category Five storm with sustained wins of 180 MPH and gusts of 222 MPH. While we wait to see how Dorian will impact the mainland U.S., the storm is bombarding the Bahamas. Since Dorian effectively stalled over the Bahamas, the eye and the most destructive winds have been over Grand Bahama Island for hours upon hours.

Early reports indicate the damage is "catastrophic" in the Bahamas with an estimated 13,000 homes damaged or destroyed. There is a great fear that multiple fatalities have occurred. We may not know the full scope of the destruction for days.

+ + Urgent response to help the Bahamas

Based on our response to Maria in Puerto Rico, we know that one of the first and most critical needs in the Bahamas will be drinkable water. This morning, my team began preparing to mobilize two 300 gallon-per-hour water purifications units to the Bahamas as soon as commercial flights resume. I am really hoping to find a private aircraft that could get us there even sooner.

These purification units cost $13,000 each. Plus, we want to send 500 water purification straws ($20/straw) to help bring drinkable water to people who are beyond the reach of our large units.

This is a critical need. Drinkable water can mean the difference between life and death, especially on an island nation when the water supply becomes compromised and there is no easy way to get water to people. Mercy Chefs is mobilizing TODAY to get these water purification units and straws to the Bahamas and I'm asking for your help TODAY to make this happen.

Specifically, we need $40,000 in the next 48 hours to get our water purification efforts launched and help bring a stable supply of drinking water to the Bahamas in the aftermath of what may be the most destructive storm ever to hit that region. Can you help me today? Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to help Mercy Chefs respond to the devastating disaster in the Bahamas and continue other vital efforts:

In all, three islands in the Bahamas have suffered under a direct hit from Dorian. Wind gusts of 222 MPH have bombarded these islands for HOURS, and storm surge flooding has reached 20 feet above normal levels. While we wait to see what Dorian brings to the U.S. mainland, this storm is already having a devastating impact. That is why I want to respond quickly, but we need your help.

Please note that our Mercy Chefs teams continue to monitor and prepare for a potential strike by Dorian along the U.S. coast. Today, I am in Florida and will track with the storm when/if it takes its expected turn to the north. "The Beast" -- our largest mobile kitchen -- is now in western South Carolina so we can respond quickly to a strike from Georgia through the Carolinas. And we have a second kitchen in Alabama that is ready to deploy.

But right now, I must mobilize resources to help in the Bahamas -- specifically by providing water purification units that can provide hundreds of thousands of gallons of drinkable water in the coming weeks. Please go here to help, and please continue to pray for those currently being hit by the storm and the millions in the U.S. who could be facing Dorian's impacts over the coming days.

Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs

P.S. I want to be able to respond as soon as we can secure a flight. Please help today. Drinking water will be one of the most critical needs in the Bahamas. Go here:

Storm graphic from Weather Channel.