Wednesday P.M. from East Chattanooga

We started serving meals to tornado victims and volunteers today at lunch and we're already exceeding our planned capacity. The need here is great and I must expand our efforts. Please see below. --Gary

The situation here in East Chattanooga is MUCH WORSE than anything you may have seen on the national news...


A massive, 3/4-mile-wide tornado landed here and then proceeded to rip through entire neighborhoods in this community across several miles. We just visited one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Home after home was damaged either beyond repair or so badly that they are looking at months of reconstruction.

I've been witnessing this for 14 years, and every time I'm still overwhelmed by the both the destruction and the resolve of good people to do what they can to take even the smallest steps toward recovery. Right now for many, that means sifting through the remains of their homes, looking for some keepsake or anything of personal value to hold on to. It's heartbreaking and it doesn't get any easier.

+ + Tornado victim sucked out of his house, hits tree, and lives

We spoke with a man who told his horrifying story. He was literally sucked out of his home by the tornado and slammed into a tree, leaving a large bruise on his side. He said he felt something else slam into him. He has two cracked ribs, a large contusion on his side and bruises up and down his leg. But he lived to tell the story, and now he's helping his neighbors clean up debris. We handed him some meals. He was very grateful. We'll be back with more tomorrow.

Another couple just started crying as they expressed their gratitude for the Mercy Chefs team members who had come from across the country to help. They were humbled that we came. I always let dear folks like this know that friends like you make it possible for Mercy Chefs to deploy and share love and hope through these meals.

+ + We're already at capacity. I must do more.

The need here is so great that with our first meal at lunch today we were already exceeding our planned capacity. So I've been on the phone all afternoon arranging a second location and a second team so we can immediately expand to meet the need.

The next 48 hours are critical as we expand to reach those who need help here in Chattanooga. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift now to help feed tornado victims and volunteers while we continue other outreaches:

+ + Church members: "I don't have food; can you help me?"

We're also bringing relief to tornado-ravaged Seneca, South Carolina, which got hit by three tornadoes. The town is a mess. There is no power so people are losing all of their refrigerated food. One of the pastors we are partnering with said he is hearing church members saying, "I don't have food. Can you help me?" And the Foodbank just ran out of food -- right when Mercy Chefs came alongside to help.

We are now serving three locations in Seneca. The need is so great that I just ordered an entire refrigerated tractor trailer -- full of food -- for the community.

Quite frankly, we didn't budget for this. Nor did I expect the need to be so great in Chattanooga. And remember that all this is happening while we continue providing tens of thousands of meals this week in response to the coronavirus crisis.

All totaled, Mercy Chefs is reaching out through 18 different locations -- while we are fully deployed for the major tornado strike in Chattanooga!

Simply put, I need help to make all this happen. Will you partner with me today to meet these critical needs? Go here to make your gift.

Thank you so much for your support and for your prayers. The people here in Chattanooga and Seneca need your prayers, and please pray for wisdom and favor and protection for the Mercy Chefs teams as we reach out across the country. Together, we can make a lasting difference.

God bless,

Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs

P.S. After the man here in Chattanooga shared his miracle survival story of getting sucked out of his house by the tornado, I asked him if we could pray for him. His eyes lit up: "Yes, please pray for me." We stood there amidst the tornado wreckage and prayed that the same God who protected his life through that tornado will also fill his life with peace and protection on this long road of recovery. Your gift today will help us bring hope to tens of thousands THIS WEEK. Go here:

COVID RESPONSE UPDATE -- Our COVID-19 response just grows and grows. In all, this new community outreach model is in 17 locations and those on the receiving end of the food you are helping us provide are amazed by the quality of the food. Real protein (chicken, ground beef). Fresh vegetables. This week, we'll provide 30,000-40,000 meals with your help. Go here for the latest photos and updates on our coronavirus crisis response.