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Hurricane Charley

Depots rally to supply storm victims

Federal and state agencies set up a warehouse and delivery system in Lakeland to get aid to storm ravaged counties.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published August 17, 2004

Supplies delivered from Lakeland since Charley struck

As of 6 p.m. Monday. Information provided by Florida Division of Forestry.

64 trucks of ice

81 trucks of water

101 generators

300 bread loaves

22,000 premade meals

LAKELAND - Long lines of semitrailer trucks and military vehicles streamed into Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Monday afternoon, carrying supplies for the thousands in need in the wake of Hurricane Charley.

The airport is one of two emergency supply depots - called Logistics Staging Areas - where federal and state disaster-relief aid is being collected and then directed to counties damaged by Charley.

Sunday and Monday, counties faxed lists of their needs to officials in Tallahassee, who then relayed the orders to the depots. Workers then loaded trucks with the requested goods and sent them to the counties waiting for help.

"It's working," said Haven Cook, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. "The trucks are getting out."

But there were some snags, Cook said. Agencies not accustomed to working together had difficulty coordinating efforts, she said. That caused delays.

On Monday night, officials changed procedures, hoping to work more effectively. From now on, trucks will be filled as soon as goods are delivered to the center, rather than waiting for counties to send requests.

The trucks then will go to the counties, and more trucks will follow until their needs are filled.

The Lakeland center and the other LSA in Charlotte County receive bottled water, ice, blankets, portable toilets, cots and a host of other items. They also stockpile MREs, or meals ready to eat, premade meals used by military personnel.

Items donated by nongovernmental charities or by individuals are not accepted.

It's been an exhausting few days for depot workers, several said. Many only had a few hours to prepare for their assignments, which last up to two weeks for federal workers and one week for state employees.

Trucking agencies, hired by the government, sent vehicles and drivers from across the country.

[Last modified August 17, 2004, 01:12:07]

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