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FEMA - Delivering Ice To Eskimos

Not quite, but close... From KSDK NewsChannel 5:

FEMA Sends Trucks Full Of Ice For Katrina Victims To Maine

The trucks started arriving this weekend, and they're expected to keep coming through Sunday.

City officials say they have no idea why the trucks are here, only that the city has been asked to help out with traffic problems. But the truck drivers NEWSCENTER spoke to said they went all the way down to the gulf coast with the ice -- stayed for a few days -- and then were told by FEMA they needed to drive to Maine to store it.

The truck drivers, who are from all over the country, tell us they were subcontracted by FEMA. They started arriving over the weekend, and city spokesperson Peter Dewitt says as many as 200 trucks could come to the city by the end of the week.

The trucks are storing the ice at Americold, a company with a warehouse on Read Street in Portland. People who live nearby say all the traffic has been baffling them for days.

Video of the full story is available.

WCSH updates the story, explaining that FEMA's order for 169.4 million pounds of ice was more that was needed. The extra was shipped to Portland, Maine and other locations for storage through the hurricane season.


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Comments (13)

At this point, FEMA is bein... (Below threshold)

At this point, FEMA is being damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.

I am no one to defend by default a federal agency but in my experience, the federal level is at least far more reasonable and coherent than nearly all state and local level governments.

FEMA is acting on advisories and complaints by the local governments, and that includes those thousands of body bags that were said to be necessary and later proved not to be. They have to store the materials somewhere and where ice storage is concerned, Maine (or Minnesota) seems like a reasonable and reasonably accessible location (less energy required year round to maintain immediate supplies of ice, just think about it).

At this point, it seems VERY reasonable to conclude that whatever Nagin and Blanco say has to be interpreted afterward it the Language of Reality. I've seen in my lifetime many local "officials" who are nothing more than personalities, but in Nagin's and Blanco's cases specifically, these two seem mentally impaired. Seriously, they both seem very limited in capacity to evaluate, understand, communicate and recognize.

Just compare the state of L... (Below threshold)

Just compare the state of Louisiana with those of Alabama and Mississippi. More people were killed in Mississippi by the Hurricane Katrina effects than they were in New Orleans, and the entire state of Louisiana, for that matter.

And, worse, Louisiana has many other small locales that suffered and still are, greatly from the storm damage and resulting loss of power, food and water. And yet, the focus on New Orleans seems entirely piggish to my view, by comparison with the others equally if not moreso affected by similar conditions.

I hear Blanco on television, then I hear Governor (of Mississippi) Haley Barbour, and I can barely believe Blanco's vacant comments and decisions by comparison. Barbour got busy, Blanco got confused. Barbour was prepared, Blanco was not. Barbour implemented, Blanco cried. The list continues...

Nagin...the man does not possess basic job skills. Sometimes you get people like him who make a good show but are of little substance otherwise, and I think with Nagin, he's one of those cases.

Call me crazy but wouldn't ... (Below threshold)

Call me crazy but wouldn't we be better off with some strategically placed semi-mounted self contained generator/ice machine units and some water tankers?

Vivian has one that makes 50 tons a day.

bullwinkle,My gues... (Below threshold)


My guess it's a "lease/buy" decision. It's probably a lot easier, and probably more cost effective, to order ice from existing facilities and ship it than it would be to take the time to aquire and bring in mobile units and crank them up. Shipping ice isn't that rare, we have a major ice plant in Michigan that ships ice over a good part of the US.

That's why I suggested plac... (Below threshold)

That's why I suggested placing some units and having them ready to go. It would have to be cheaper to store 3 or 4 of them than it is to truck ice half-way across the country in refrigerated trailers and back after paying to keep it frozen for weeks or possibly even months. I bet the trucking bill alone would pay for the ice plants.

And i,ll bet they will deli... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

And i,ll bet they will deliver sun lamps to the gobi desert if they can

We're going to need that ic... (Below threshold)

We're going to need that ice down here in Texas early next week. Hurricane Rita is coming to town.

The update makes it a bit l... (Below threshold)

The update makes it a bit less bizarre, but it doesn't seem like a very effective way to handle the problem. My guess is that there's some sort of budget disconnect here. Lots of unused funds to contract transportation services and a lot less in whatever purchasing budget that could be used to buy/rent ice machines for use on location.

bullwinkle,This as... (Below threshold)


This assumes that FEMA would be aware beforehand that they'd overbought ice and needed re-truck it. They had two choices:
1) Dump the excess ice on the ground and pay for more ice should they need it next week after Rita.
2) Pay to truck it round-trip.

It's quite possible that #2 is the cheaper option.

As for the portable units. First you'd need to buy them, you'd need to pay to store them when not in use, you'd need to buy the bags, you'd need to procure the water tankers too, you'd need people trained to operate them, you'd still need to hire refer trucks to deliver the ice throught the region. When you add those costs up, it's not hard to imagine that buying the ice could be cheaper... especially given that your ice needs will fluctuate wildly from year to year.

Hmmmm.Gizmo pretty... (Below threshold)


Gizmo pretty much covered it but the biggest problem with generating ice on the spot is the quality of the water supply. I expect that a hurricane compromises the local water supply and trucking in water, the fuel to chill it and the machinery is not as cost effective.

*shrug* but who knows.

Gizmo and ed: ditto and al... (Below threshold)

Gizmo and ed: ditto and also to conider that the fuel to truck it is probably less than the fuel to generate the power to maintain the refrigration locally.

Once again, epador: exactl... (Below threshold)

Once again, epador: exactly right.

I tried to include that allusion but it seems to have been missed by some.

Perhaps the issue seems "lame" at best to some because ice is perceived as such a ready commodity. But, when you need several tons of the stuff to perishables (and therefore, to sustain life) it makes a big difference as to keeping a huge quantity readily available. At least of the type that is sanitary, can be consumed/shared with consumables...and the energy required to both make it and store it is no small thing. Several tanks o' diesel and a few drivers' salaries is little by comparison.

"Several tanks o' diesel an... (Below threshold)

"Several tanks o' diesel and a few drivers' salaries is little by comparison."

Bullshit! We are talking 200 semis, 200 to 400 drivers, MANY MANY tanks of diesel, and most importantly, 200 trucks that can NOT be used for any other emergency use.

These trucks will be idling, burning fuel, for days. They can only unload 4 at a time. They would be better served to be left idling in Mississippi.

This is another FEMA screwup, at best. Deliberate redirection of possible aid at worst. Put this story together with the first hand accounts of FEMA turning away volunteers, oil, a navy hospital ship, and donated water, and you get a fuller picture.






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