PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Portsmouth-based non-profit Mercy Chefs is yet again answering the call for help, this time on the island of Maui in Hawaii.

Team members are on the ground right now preparing to serve dinner Thursday night.

Dozens of people have died as several wildfires, fueled by hurricane winds, ravage the island of Maui.

Thousands of people evacuated and hundreds of structures and thousands of acres burned.

“Hawaii is paradise – we always talk about, you go to paradise when you go to Hawaii, and this has just been unprecedented in the history of the state,” said Mercy Chefs founder Gary LeBlanc. “Paradise is not paradise tonight.”

LeBlanc said team members are already on the ground preparing to serve meals to those impacted by the devastating wildfires.

He said they have some existing partnerships on the island of Maui already because they served meals there during the pandemic.

“They’ve been fighting to come back from that loss of tourism ever since,” LeBlanc said, “and were just hitting their stride again when this terrible fire broke out.”

LeBlanc said some of the team members who are currently on the ground in Hawaii have served California wildfire victims in the past, and they say it’s devastating to see.

“They’re all saying they’ve never seen anything quite like this,” LeBlanc said. “One of them described it, saying it’s like being on a ship when there’s a fire (and) there’s no place really to go but into the water, and that is the case on this island.”

The two churches they’re working out of are serving as shelters for about 700 people who are displaced.

“We also have a golf course resort that has said we can come in and use their kitchen and their staff however we need to,” LeBlanc said, “recognizing that there’s so many people on the island that are talented cooks, but they’ve never done this sort of thing before.”

LeBlanc said additional calls are coming in to pick up more shelters across the island.

“Of course, Mercy Chefs can scale up to whatever need there is, so were looking at at least 1,500 to 2,000 meals a day today and tomorrow,” LeBlanc said, “but that could swell to 15,000 meals very easily.”

Mercy Chefs founder Gary LeBlanc said they’ve had a lot of people reach out to volunteer, but there are many other ways to help. If you’d like to make a targeted donation to help feed victims, click here.