BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Millions of dollars worth of ice Louisiana purchased for victims of Hurricane Isaac was allowed to melt, an investigation by the Louisiana Office of Inspector General has revealed.
The Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) ordered 45 million pounds of ice during Hurricane Isaac at a cost of $17.4 million. The ice was ordered from Pelican Ice. With all associated costs figured in, including transportation, Louisiana paid $28 dollars per ten pound bag of ice, the reports says.
According to the report, only $2.4 million worth of ice was actually distributed to storm victims. The remaining $15 million worth of ice was either "given away to private businesses or allowed to melt," the report says.
The report says GOSHEP paid Pelican Ice $315,000 in restocking charges to take back some of the remaining ice.
Bruce Ellis, a state worker who says he was fired after blowing the whistle on bad management of the ice program, has since sued the state. His attorney, Jill Craft, was pleased to hear of the Inspector General's findings. "I think it's terrific and it absolutely validates everything Mr. Ellis said," Craft said.
Here is the Executive Summary from the GOHSEP Hurricane Isaac report:
The Louisiana Office of Inspector General received a complaint concerning several issues related to bagged ice that the Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) ordered and distributed following Hurricane Isaac, which made its landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on August 28, 2012. Our investigation revealed the following:
- GOHSEP issued purchase orders to Pelican Ice on August 29, 2012, August 30, 2012, and September 2, 2012. Each order requested 15,050,000 pounds of ice in ten pound bags for a total of 45,150,000 pounds. The amount actually purchased and delivered totaled 33,924,000 pounds. Pelican Ice invoiced GOHSEP $17,407,633 for 773 ice deliveries, which includes invoices for 268,856 miles at $4.00 per mile and 122,764 loitering hours at $75 per hour. GOHSEP records show that only 6,248,000 pounds of ice, which cost $2,392,714 to acquire and deliver, were distributed to the public. The remaining ice, which cost $15,014,919 to acquire, deliver, and discard was either given away or allowed to melt. Hurricane Isaac was the second event in which GOHSEP was responsible for ordering and delivering bagged ice.
- When the demand for ice declined after the hurricane, GOHSEP still possessed large amounts of leftover ice. It attempted to return the ice to Pelican but was unable due to sanitation and storage space issues. GOHSEP paid Pelican Ice a $315,000 "restocking charge" to take back the ice. Between September 6, 2012 and September 14, 2012, 347 truckloads of ice were delivered to an unrefrigerated warehouse in Lacombe, LA to be restocked. GOHSEP paid $7,536,314 to purchase, transport, and unload the ice in the Lacombe warehouse, where it was allowed to melt. According to GOHSEP, restocking the ice was cheaper than paying for it to sit in refrigerated trucks indefinitely.
- After delivering as much leftover ice to other state agencies as possible, GOHSEP arranged for the delivery of 71 truckloads of ice to private restaurants, seafood suppliers, and ice suppliers. The cost of these deliveries amounted to $2,425,804. An ice supplier given 490,000 pounds of ice, re-bagged and sold some of the ice that it received.
- GOHSEP informed us that the Louisiana National Guard (LANG) tracked ice inventory at Points of Distribution (POD) using its Point of Distribution Inventory System (PODIS). When we requested PODIS reports, LANG provided us with a single Power Point slide previously provided to the governor which claimed that 1,518,169 bags of ice were distributed to the public. Pelican Ice, however, invoiced GOHSEP for the delivery of only 142 truckloads, or 624,800 bags of ice to POD locations. Pelican Ice was the sole supplier of ice for Hurricane Isaac. Based on all associated ice costs, GOHSEP paid $28 per bag of ice distributed from PODs.