$15M in ice bought for Isaac aid given away, melts - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

$15M in ice bought for Isaac aid given away, melts

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - More than $15 million worth of bagged ice purchased for Hurricane Isaac victims was either given away to private restaurants, seafood or ice suppliers or allowed to melt, according to a report released Thursday by the state's Office of Inspector General.

The report notes that the Governor's Office of Homeland Security ordered 45 million pounds of ice from Pelican Ice for $17.4 million after Isaac struck Aug. 28. Yet, only $2.4 million worth of ice was actually distributed to storm victims, the report said.

"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," the report said.

GOHSEP also paid $315,000 in restocking charges to Pelican Ice to take back some of the remaining ice.

The report said, "Between Sept. 6, 2012 and Sept. 14, 2012, 347 truckloads of ice were delivered to an unrefrigerated warehouse in Lacombe to be restocked. GOHSEP paid $7.5 million 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."

According to the report, GOHSEP delivers as much leftover ice as possible to other state agencies, then arranged for the delivery of 71 truckloads of ice to private restaurants, seafood suppliers or ice suppliers. An ice supplier, given 490,000 pounds of ice, re-bagged and sold some of the ice it received.

The report also notes that the Louisiana National Guard tracked ice inventory using its point of distribution inventory system, which claimed that 1.5 million bags of ice were distributed. However, Pelican Ice - the sole supplier for ice for Isaac - invoiced GOHSEP for 624,800 bags. "Based on all associated ice costs, GOHSEP paid $28 per bag of ice distributed," the report said.

The IG's office recommended GOHSEP implement an inventory tracking system to "ensure that the essential amounts of commodities are on hand or on order."

It also recommends GOHSEP should include a provision in its ice contracts for excess ice to be returned to the distributor along with a refund of the value of the returned product and recommended that future delivery contracts be written to "ensure that trucks receiving loitering and mileage payments be required to provide their own fuel."

"As indicated we have reviewed the report and concur with all findings and recommendations," said Kevin Davis, director of GOHSEP, in its response to the report.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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