Florida opened a 200,000 square-foot warehouse and joint command center last week for disaster response, which will hold millions worth of stockpiled commodities.
The warehouse, located in an industrial park not far from the Orange County jail, is a former pharmaceutical manufacturing facility that will cost $1.5 million a year to lease.
Its contents, worth an estimated $8.5 million, include: 1.5 million gallons of water; 65,000 nonperishable meals; 45,000 tarps; 8 miles of generator and cable 6,000 special needs cots and bed kits
“The most important thing we can do is get a plan, be prepared and make sure that Florida is ready as she has been in the past,” Gov. Charlie Crist said.
Officials warned residents they would still have to stockpile their own supplies. The contents of the warehouse would only be enough for one day in a Category 3 hurricane, officials said.
The facility also serves as a command and operations center. It has a helicopter landing area and an 820-square-foot, climate-controlled vault – a carry-over from the pharmaceutical operation. Chuck Hagen, the state’s emergency logistics chief, said expensive communication gear would go in the vault.
The warehouse, located centrally in the state, promises better speed and efficiency. Previously, Hagen said, Florida relied on vendor contracts to get supplies like ice and water ahead of a storm.
“We would start the procurement process three days before landfall. In this case we’ll start loading trucks three days before landfall,” he said.
Additional goods would also be stored at a much smaller warehouse in Miami-Dade County, Hagen said.
Craig Fugate, head of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, emphasized the commodities were meant for those without resources to get their own.
“This is only a partnership,” Fugate said. “There’s not enough water here, not enough resources here, if everybody doesn’t get ready.”