Response teams from KC help those dealing with Hurricane Idalia

Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 10:58 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - As 125 mile per hour winds ripped through areas of Florida’s west, members of Operation BBQ Relief were leaving the metro to provide support.

“There are a lot of power lines down, it’s hard work getting a tractor trailer into a disaster zone, lifting power lines, moving trees so, we’ve worked really hard to get in,” says David Marks of Operation BBQ Relief.

Marks is currently in Florida doing what the group does best, serving up hot, fresh barbeque meals.

Since their arrival, Operation BBQ Relief has provided 1,200 meals for first responders and search and rescue teams, and Thursday they’ll be serving people in the hard-hit areas.

“We use barbeque, a hot meal as a conduit just to get to people and provide them a little hope, a little friendship, a little compassion,” said Marks.

The same hope, friendship and compassion members of his team are offering in Maui as the small town of Lahaina recovers from the wildfires.

“We set up a drive-thru food line, I think at the height of it we were doing about 1,500 to 1,600 meals,” says Stan Hays, the CEO and Co-Founder of Operation BBQ Relief.

Hays just got back to the metro after spending 15 days in Maui.

“When you give them that hot barbecue meal and they look at you and thank you, it means a lot,” Hays said.

The ASAR Training and Response team out of Kansas City is currently in Maui providing a different form of assistance, searching through hard hit areas to help animals.

Eric Thompson, the Senior Director of ASAR Training and Response says they started out with more than 1,300 lost animal reports. Now, that number is now down to about 450.

“We can get those animals out of dangerous situations and return them to the owners, without the owners risking their lives and not having the training to work in these hazardous environments,” says Thompson.

Both groups said they are always looking for financial donations to help them continue their ongoing disaster relief work.