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Audit warned that agency that wanted Florida to prepare for hurricane was 'ill-prepared' for hurricane

Shelter Miami-Dade C.M. GuerreroLong before Florida entered the deadliest hurricane season in a decade, auditors at the state’s Division of Emergency Management sent out a warning: the state was ill-prepared for a major disaster.

A 23-page annual audit completed in December 2016 by the agency’s inspector general detailed a lengthy list of deficiencies needed to prepare and respond to a hurricane. Among them:

▪  Food and water supplies at the distribution center in Orlando were inadequate.

▪  Contracts with companies that would supply cots to shelters had expired.

What’s worse, auditors warned, the state’s emergency managers didn’t know what they didn’t know.

“Action is needed to determine the requirements of the state for supplies and equipment in the event of a disaster in order to ensure that adequate types and quantities of disaster supplies and equipment are available, inspectors said.

The report concluded: “The division’s ability to respond to disasters may be impaired.”

The audit findings were delivered to Bryan Koon, at the time secretary of the Division of Emergency Management, and his chief of staff, along with their deputies. They agreed with the criticisms and vowed to improve.

They said they would contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get advice on how to improve the state’s stockpile of provisions. They said they would renew contracts and renegotiate others. They also gave themselves a deadline: March 2018 — 18 months after the audit report and four months after the end of the 2017 hurricane season. Read more here.

Photo: Hundreds of Hurricane Irma evacuees wait in line for hours under the scorching sun to enter a Robert Morgan Educational Center, a shelter in South Dade which immediately filled to capacity on Friday, September 8, 2017. C.M. GUERRERO. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

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