As the northern Bahamas face a potential catastrophe under record-breaking Hurricane Dorian, celebrity D.C. chef Jose Andres is determined to help the island nation pick itself back up.
Andres and his humanitarian relief team, World Central Kitchen, are riding out the storm in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, with plans to serve freshly cooked meals to storm-stricken communities once the danger has passed.
“We’re getting everything ready, knowing where the shelters are, knowing what kitchens and hotels may be available where we can use their infrastructure to start feeding as many people as we can,” Andres told WTOP’s Madeleine Simon on Sunday, as the storm was making landfall over 80 miles to his north on Abaco island.
While WCK has a long track record of helping people in need, from victims of 2017’s Hurricane Maria to furloughed workers during the government shutdown, Andres said Dorian’s unprecedented threat — a slow-moving Category 5 unleashing devastating winds and storm surge on the same area for over a day — has made this mission particularly challenging.
“We like to adapt to the situation, but right now, we’re blinded. We already know the hotels that are our partners, where we may be able to use their kitchens, but the biggest issue is that the storm may be so bad, those hotels are destroyed or the kitchens totally covered in water,” Andres said.
We @WCKitchen are 80 miles from #HurricaneDorian eye & feeling this!! Imagine what the people of Abaco+Grand Bahamas will experience! Bahamas @opmthebahamas Goverment will need major help! @ClintonGlobal @RedCross @TeamRubicon … Florida should also get ready for major winds! pic.twitter.com/lIa9ghhUdk
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) September 1, 2019
Plan A for Andres is to deploy WCK’s team of cooks and volunteers across Abaco and Grand Bahama, the two islands where over 70,000 people are facing the brunt of Dorian’s strength, after Bahamian emergency officials have assessed the situation and searched for survivors.
He shared a Google Map with dozens of hotels, schools and municipal buildings WCK has already scoped out to utilize their kitchens once the recovery effort begins.
If those sites can’t be used due to a lack of electricity or worse, Andre won’t be deterred: WCK’s relief team will work with locals and the government to build the kitchens themselves, coordinating to shuttle in food, water and gas from the outside if needed.
“It’s going to require a lot of adaptation,” he said.
The Bahamas, he explained, are low-lying and highly susceptible to storm surge. Videos surfacing on social media have already revealed a horrifying scene of coastal neighborhoods reduced to debris fields, suggesting most surviving buildings are gutted.
The National Hurricane Center warns the area could be uninhabitable for weeks or even months.
Those wanting to help WCK can donate on the organization’s website.
WTOP’s Madeleine Simon contributed to this report.