SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - When disaster struck Louisiana, Coast restaurateur Bob Taylor knew he needed to fire up the smokers.
"We were devastated big time with Hurricane Katrina - and with the oil spill - and everybody from everywhere came and helped us," said Taylor, President of Gulf Coast Restaurant Group. "We're just trying to pay it back."
A total of 1,700 pounds of pork butts a truck-load of bottled water, and a dozen volunteers headed to Hammond on Thursday; joining some of the best pit masters in the country in support of Operation BBQ Relief.
"We have thousands of people waiting on food right now and Operation BBQ Relief is out there cooking hot, delicious, competition-level barbecue," said Daddy's BBQ Owner James Bates. "It's incredible. Our people have big hearts and when the need is there, they step up and they respond."
Terry Welch has been traveling to Hammond every day to help feed volunteers and flood victims.
"I've got a Southern Pride 1400 smoker over there, and we're 24 hours, just steadily cooking," said Welch, owner of BBQ World in Long Beach. "It's great. It's just something I love being a part of and helping people."
The cooks prepared pulled pork, pork loin, chicken and side dishes, and served about 500 meals Monday night. The number of meals is projected to reach 25,000 a day.
The convoy hit the road two hours before lunchtime, ready to give flooded neighbors another taste of South Mississippi hospitality.
"It's a reminder that they're not alone. That here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we've got their back," said Bates.
Numerous businesses and people on the Coast have donated food, smokers and money to support the cause. Among the donors, The Shed, Gulf Coast Business Supply, Naomi's Catering, Windance Country Club, Boat Trash Charters, J. Carter Real Estate and Development, Eat Y'all, First Baptist Church in Gulfport and the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.
However, more contributions and volunteers are needed to keep the operation going. Those interested in helping are asked to call Bates at 228-297-2271.