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Fasano confronts officials on unused generators
Published December 14, 2007
TALLAHASSEE - Angry lawmakers including Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey grilled state emergency management officials Thursday over millions that have not been spent to help communities prepare for hurricanes.
"Almost a year and a half ago, $151-million was allocated for generators, shelters, emergency operations centers, a warehouse, a plan, a public awareness campaign, and so far of that $151-million, you've spent about $21-million," Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said during a testy meeting with top state Division of Emergency Management officials by the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee.
After the busy hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, Florida lawmakers wanted to make sure the state would always be prepared. Legislators ordered all kinds of stuff - generators for shelters, a new warehouse for emergency supplies and new emergency operations bunkers.
One of the biggest parts of the preparedness legislation, passed with much fanfare in spring of 2006, was a plan to put a generator in every hurricane shelter for people with special needs. That was to avoid situations like those in 2004, when victims of Hurricanes Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne who had medical problems were staying in shelters with no electricity for air conditioning.
Nearly two years later, nearly 40 of the generators are sitting in an Ocala warehouse.
Florida Emergency Management deputy director Ruben Almaguer said it would take another $50-million to get the generators installed.
Almaguer said emergency officials essentially had to guess at the cost to build and install the giant generators because it had never been done before.