updated 10/11/2005 6:12:04 PM ET 2005-10-11T22:12:04


The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to store ice in facilities around the country in the event of another major hurricane this season.  More than forty percent of the 182 million pounds of ice ordered for Hurricane Katrina was used to assist Katrina victims and Katrina-specific purposes.  Of this 182 million pounds, nearly 60 percent was unused for Katrina response.  FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have now placed the remaining ice in storage facilities throughout the country, pre-positioned for the remainder of the 2005 hurricane season.

FEMA's mission is saving lives and protecting property, especially during an unprecedented hurricane season.  This mission, and the pre-positioning of commodities needed to fulfill it - like ice - requires strategic repositioning of commodities in order to serve disaster victims wherever they may be.  FEMA had 429 trailers of ice on-hand following Hurricane Dennis and pre-positioned that ice in three federal staging areas in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.  FEMA also placed an initial order for 500 additional trailers of ice from the Army Corps of Engineers in preparation for Hurricane Katrina (a Category 5 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico), ultimately increasing the order to 5,000 trailers of ice. Given the enormity of the disaster, and the lengthy search and rescue efforts, the influx of ice into the disaster zone became strictly targeted behind the broader distribution of commodities of water and meals-ready-to-eat.  

A relocated population did not need ice.  Using an Army Corps of Engineers model to forecast ice needs, FEMA estimated nearly 200 million pounds of ice would be needed for Hurricane Katrina in anticipation of a Category 5 hurricane.  Following Katrina's landfall, a substantial number of housing units were destroyed and the population was relocated.  These changes greatly reduced the need for ice in the regions assigned to receive trucks and the result was excess ice that was then repositioned.

Why was excess ice transported to Portland, Maine?
Ice intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina was delivered as request came in from the affected states.  Once the anticipated need for ice was not realized, 250 trucks with excess ice were sent to Portland, Maine, where AmeriCold Logistics was contracted to store excess ice.  Of the 250 trucks originally sent to Maine, 152 trucks worth of ice now remain in storage with an aggregate cost of $153,000.  The cost to store the ice in Maine is substantially less than the cost of holding the ice in refrigerated trucks for an extended period of time or reproducing new ice in the event of another disaster this year.

Was the excess ice used for Hurricane Rita?
Excess ice from Hurricane Katrina was strategically pre-positioned for Hurricane Rita, which grew to a Category 5 Hurricane days before landfall.  Along with the Texas Gulf coast where nearly two million residents evacuated, Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, was also in the track of the storm.  In preparation for a disaster in a densely populated region, FEMA moved 29 trailers of ice to Homestead, Florida and pre-positioned truckloads of ice in both Texas and Louisiana.  As Rita's track moved eastward in the final 36 hours prior to landfall, the need for ice was greatly reduced as it eventually made landfall in a less-populated area along the Gulf coast.  Fortunately, many were out of harms way, and while the repositioning was critical for what COULD HAVE happened, all of that ice was not needed.

In anticipation of Hurricane Ophelia, FEMA also pre-positioned excess ice along the East Coast.  As Ophelia formed and strengthened, it was initially a threat to the coast of South Carolina.  That said, FEMA's strategy was to pre-position ice on both sides of the storm's path, in Emporia, Virginia and Columbia, South Carolina.  As landfall forecasts continued moving northward, FEMA selected two additional sites to pre-position ice, Cumberland, Maryland and Edison, New Jersey.  Ultimately, few commodities, including ice, were required for Ophelia response due to the storm's weakened impact along the Atlantic coast.  Again, FEMA needed to be there for the possible need.

FEMA mission assigned the Army Corps of Engineers for ice, which resulted in ice being sourced and transported by IAP Worldwide, based in Irmo, South Carolina.  AmeriCold Logistics, based in Atlanta, Georgia, has been contracted by FEMA to store the ice in facilities around the country, and to transport the ice on some occasions.  ReddyIce, based in Dallas, Texas, was also contracted directly by FEMA to supply ice.  The IAP contract is part of long-term contractual relationship between IAP and the Army Corps of Engineers, and is currently in its final year.

Strategic repositioning of ice for disaster response
"FEMA works with states in pre-positioning commodities before a disaster.  If all commodities of ice, bottled water and Meals-Ready-to-Eat are not needed, they are repositioned or offloaded at staging areas not only throughout the hurricane-prone southeast, but also across the nation.  FEMA must be prepared for all hazards, earthquakes in California, to late season tornadoes in Wyoming, to terrorism.  Strategic repositioning of commodities is one of the key elements of FEMA's ability to be pre-positioned and ready anywhere in the United States for any sort of disaster.  These commodities are put to use, not wasted."

Ice is a primary commodity ordered in large quantities to serve victims of large disasters, particularly following hurricanes where power to large populations is often cut off for days or weeks.  Ice is ordered, dispatched, stored and redirected to achieve the most effective quantities of scale taking into account the projected population of need, requests from state officials, fixed logistics staging areas, and potential future use.

Nearly 200 million pounds of ice was ordered in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina - some was pre-positioned and the rest put on standby to stock the supply line.  Approximately 40 percent of the ice was delivered to and distributed to areas heavily impacted by Katrina.  However, by the time the majority of the ice ordered to serve the population reached the area in need that population had been evacuated. 

It was determined by FEMA and Army Corps logistics staff that this ice should be redirected to serve other areas of potential need, including pre-positioning all along the east coast in anticipation of Hurricane Ophelia and then again in the Gulf Coast region for Hurricane Rita.  This ice was utilized in both situations, though significantly more served people affected by Hurricane Rita.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments