NEW ORLEANS -- Millions of dollars in ice ordered by the state of Louisiana during Hurricane Isaac never made it to the public, according to a scathing inspector general's report released on Thursday.
According to the report, much of that leftover ice was left to melt away.
"Because it's hot in my house and all the drinks are going hot!" said one young girl waiting in line for ice last summer after Isaac came and went.
She joined thousands of heat-weary citizens across the New Orleans metro area in search of water and ice.
A new report released Thursday says the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness ordered 45 million pounds of ice after the storm from Kenner-based Pelican Ice.
However, the inspector general says the state was charged $17.4 million for 33 million pounds of ice, but only 6 million pounds totaling $2 million actually made it into the hands of storm victims.
"I'm a tax payer just like you, and everybody else and I think its just wrong to want and leave wasted material," said former state worker Bruce Ellis during an interview last December with our sister station WAFB.
He shot video of some of the leftover ice in a warehouse that was allowed to melt away.
The Office of Inspector General now confirms the state of Louisiana paid a whopping $15 million to pay for leftover ice to be moved, a small amount was delivered and the rest was left to melt.
The report shows some of the ice went to private restaurants and ice suppliers. In one case, a company rebagged the donated ice and sold it.
Ellis claims he lost his job after exposing the ice program's flaws. Now he's suing the state with help from his attorney.
"The leadership in this state constantly tells us that we're short on money. Our budget is tight and we can't fund higher education. Here we're going to go and buy 600 extra truck loads of ice when it's unnecessary. We're going to pay a vendor to take it back simply to let it melt in their warehouse," said Ellis' attorney, Jill Craft.
The inspector general's office says the state needs to adopt a better inventory tracking system. It also suggests the state adopt a provision allowing any unused ice to be returned to a vendor for a refund.
The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has agreed to adopt those changes for any future storm. To read the full report, click here.
On Friday, the Governor's Office issued this statement in response to our Eyewitness News report:
“In keeping with hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, we’d certainly rather have more ice than not enough.”
Office of Governor Bobby Jindal