Promise for Backup Generators in Fla. Hurricane Shelters Unkept

July 10, 2007

Most of the backup generators that Florida lawmakers promised would be installed in hurricane shelters for the state’s most fragile residents by the start of hurricane season have not been installed and won’t be until the season is over, authorities said.

The Legislature allotted $53 million to install the equipment by June 1. But only 10 of the 70 shelters in line for the generators are expected to have them by the end of hurricane season.

“Every step that we’ve taken along the way has been to try to achieve that June 1 deadline, and it just wasn’t possible,” said Danny Kilcollins, who is managing the program for the state Division of Emergency Management. “It’s a large-scale project.”

State emergency planners say the funding isn’t nearly enough for the number of generators needed and the planning required to install them takes far longer than the 12 months lawmakers gave them. Planners are still receiving bids from companies supplying the custom-built generators.

The new goal is to have them finished by year’s end.

Hundreds of shelters statewide already have some temporary or permanent backup power. The 70 shelters in line to receive generators don’t have enough backup power to keep medical equipment running along with lights and air conditioning.

Air conditioning is crucial for fragile patients, whose health can quickly deteriorate in a stifling shelter. The backup generators also power crucial medical equipment, including nebulizers, which administer inhaled medicines, and breathing machines that keep patients from suffocating. And they power outlets to recharge batteries in electric wheelchairs and refrigerators that keep medication cold.

Information from: The Tampa Tribune,

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