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How chef José Andrés is working to feed the storm-stricken Bahamas

The devastation in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian is unprecedented and catastrophic. Although homes, roadways and some airports remain submerged, chef José Andrés has traveled to the territory with his nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen, on a mission to feed the victims of the disaster. He spoke with Judy Woodruff about why the islands are so vulnerable and how Americans can help.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we have seen, the damage from Dorian in the Bahamas appears catastrophic.

    Chef and restauranteur José Andrés is there with his nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen, which feeds those in need after disasters. He and his group served meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

    I spoke to him by phone from Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, earlier today.

    Chef Andres, thank you very much for talking us with.

    First of all, tell us, when did you get to the Bahamas? Where are you? And what have you seen?

  • José Andrés:

    We got to the Bahamas three days ago. We came to Nassau, directly, to the capital of the Bahamas.

    We were six people, and with one very simple mission, to be ready to be near the local government, the government of the Bahamas, to NEMA, which is the FEMA of the Bahamas, and to start learning and getting ready for the response.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And what do you have in the way of supplies of food, of equipment that will allow you to serve whatever the need is?

  • José Andrés:

    We have been getting a lot of help from the private sector as well.

    We are here in the resort of Atlantis. It happens I have here a restaurant. And Atlantis, they have been giving us all the help we can get. And the government, we know they couldn't allow passage before in the island, but, again, the island literally was underwater.

    This is like the Caribbean Ocean, the Caribbean Sea took over the island. So we need to think totally with a very open mind and adapt. So we have a ship that will come from Fort Lauderdale hopefully by tomorrow, will be on — will be our way.

    We have another ship here in Nassau. We took very big freezers that will bring a lot of the food we're going to be needing to cook there. We will bring big pots of food. And we will create, if necessary, what will be a temporary kitchen in each island.

    At the beginning, we're going to be also cooking from here, from Nassau, and probably be bringing the food by helicopter in the early days and by boat daily, until we are able to finally be cooking in those two islands.

    But we have been making sandwiches for the last two days, because the sandwiches are almost like our MREs. They are very light. But they are full of calories. And we can bring many thousands with us in the first helicopter drops

    What happens right now, you need to understand, everybody is on rescue missions. It's a lot of people that they are on the island alone in their homes surrounded by water.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You told us you have been going to the Bahamas for a long time. Have you ever seen anything like this?

  • José Andrés:

    Everything we see on the videos, everything we see on the photos is like nothing we have ever seen.

    We need to understand, those two islands, they are not very big. They are very narrow islands, so imagine when they are so narrow and water is coming everywhere.

    We saw videos where (INAUDIBLE) is like in hundreds of homes in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, with only water on the horizon. So the situation, again, many people, they didn't have anywhere to be safe.

    And the water was so high that even some of the shelters, they became useless. So we know that, in the hospital, it's not only being used as a hospital in Abaco, but also as a temporary shelter for hundreds, if not thousands of people.

    So, again, the situation is hard. And the next days are going to be critical to be able to do a very quick and fast response once all the search missions will be finished in the next two or three days.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last thing, chef Andres, what can people do who are listening to this interview right now do? How can they help?

  • José Andrés:

    Well, Americans — and I'm so proud myself now, as an immigrant. I can say I am an American, too.

    So proud that the U.S. Coast Guard moved in as quick as they could. And they have been already doing amazing work. And I know already the USAID is here in Bahamas also ready to bring their expertise.

    So this is a way already the American people, through these organizations, are helping. I know many NGOs are going to be moving.

    What I'm going to be telling people is always the same. I know a lot of people are going to be requesting money. And make sure that — if you donate money, make sure it's the right organizations, that they are really doing work on the ground.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Chef Jose Andres, thank you very much for talking with us.

    We wish you the very best with everything you're trying to do in this horrible situation.

  • José Andrés:

    Well, thank you very much, and we will keep in touch, OK?

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