KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Operation BBQ Relief out of Kansas City, Missouri, is stepping up to Hurricane Ida’s frontlines.
Stan Hayes, Operation BBQ Relief’s CEO and cofounder, said they’ll work out of Hammond, Louisiana.
“The damage here is actually a lot worse than I thought,” Hayes said. “I’ve never seen trees uprooted this big in people’s yards.”
Hayes said Hammond is a town they’re familiar with because five years ago they were there serving their 1 millionth meal after a disastrous flood event.
“We’ve been in over 30 states, 80 disasters, providing that hot BBQ meal to somebody in their time of need,” Hayes said.
This time in Hammond, volunteers will spend the next few weeks at their home base of an empty school parking lot filled with multiple semi-trucks.
“If we walked over here, you could just see the [Hurricane Ida’s] power that came through this area,” he said. “It blew out the fiberglass sidelights. That first garage door was blown off the tracks and just ripped into the building.”
Hayes’ crew hopes to serve more than 350,000 meals over the next few weeks, pushing out food and their Kansas City warmth throughout the state.
“Most of us who have been cooking BBQ for any amount of time take for granted what a pulled pork meal means to someone,” Hayes said. “It means so much more when you see that somebody has lost everything.”
Volunteers have served 9.1 million meals since Operation BBQ Relief's inception.
Those who would like to help Operation BBQ Relief can do so on the organization's website.