May 13, 2006
Coming on the heels of Governor Bush's applauded remark "It gets harder when people line up to get ice and water in their Lexuses and Mercedes when Publix is open one block away" is news that the state will not have public distribution points if there is a Publix or Winn-Dixie supermarket in the area – Residents may have to pay for ice after storm
Florida is so big, its populations so dense, there is no way the state can continue to realistically stock enough drive-through ice and water centers to meet the potential need, Hagan, (the logistics chief for Florida's Division of Emergency Management), said Friday. ''It's not physically possible,'' he said.
In addition, national retailers working out their own disaster plans realize they lose a large amount of perishable food, and business, by not being able to quickly restore power. Chains such as Publix have announced plans to include permanent emergency power generators in each new store and to ship portable generators to those without.
Planners have met with chief executives of the top food and lumber supply chains in Florida to get lists of what stores will be open, and where, and are asking counties to include that information when they decide where to put free distribution sites.
A planner for Palm Beach county voiced a legitimate concern:
''There's no guarantee the buildings are going to be there, or the employees can get to work,'' Merriman said.
''If our community is devastated I don't think we should rely on those stores being open.''
What I would like to read more of is if and how Publix, et al are preparing for the responsibility being transferred to them (the article says that Publix has plans in the works that would enable stores to maintain or quickly restore power). One can imagine the publicity a store could claim by being the providers in a time of need, but at the same time how quiet they would be if they failed to meet the state's expectation (and the finger-pointing that would follow).