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Rikesh Patel owns and operates 25 McDonald's in Louisiana, including eight in and around Lake Charles—the area hardest hit by Hurricane Laura.
The day after the monster storm made landfall, Rikesh Patel was on the phone with McDonald's corporate office, and within 24 hours a restaurant on wheels arrived in Lake Charles to feed those in need of a hot meal.
Laura, the strongest hurricane to strike Louisiana since 1856, damaged countless homes and businesses and left six people dead. Even two weeks later, Patel told CNN that he estimates 90% of residents are still without electricity and running water.
"Pictures don't do it (destruction) justice," he said. "It's so much worse than what you're seeing on social media."
WATCH: Hurricane Laura Made Landfall as a Category 4 Storm Causing Major Damage: Here’s How to Help
Hurricane Laura Made Landfall as a Category 4 Storm Causing Major Damage: Here’s How to Help
Last night’s storm was the strongest storm to hit Louisiana in over a century.
Patel rallied all the employees he could to staff the self-sustained mobile kitchen—A.K.A. The McRig—to serve as many people possible. Over the course of six days, they served over 10,000 free brown bag meals of cheeseburgers, fries, and bottled water.
In the last 4 days we have provided over 10,000 free @McDonalds meals to our community. Ray Kroc believed we must give back to our communities that we do business in. Thank you to our amazing crew and managers for making this belief come alive. #HurricaneLaura #lakecharlesstrong pic.twitter.com/xj3mX9aecV
— Rikesh Patel (@RikeshAPatel) September 3, 2020
"It was just really neat to see the whole family aspect, of how we've always said we're like a family and it just really came to life during such a tragedy," Patel told CNN.
He stressed that even with the McRig gone and restaurants beginning to slowly open back up, people are still in dire need of essential supplies. Generators, water, and meals that are easy to transport are high on the list.
"We know that the rebuilding process will take a lot of time," Patel said. "But we know that Lake Charles is going to come through this and that we'll be stronger than ever