Florida is testing a mobile readiness emergency response system

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With less than two weeks until the 2011 hurricane season, the state is testing its response equipment and retraining staff.

A mobile system helping to bring food and cash assistance to hurricane victims was tested Thursday to make sure it's ready to respond.

In 2005, Hurricane Wilma left thousands of South Florida residents hungry and thirsty. 600-thousand asked for help from the state.

During Wilma, applications for cash and food assistance were filled out on paper. It took days, sometimes weeks for assistance to arrive.

Now the Department of Children and Families has a mobile application system. Victims are given debit cards when they apply. Using a satellite the applications can be approved over night and the cards activated.

"The amount of money the card depends on how many people are in your family," said Terry Durdaller, a spokeswoman with DCF.

DCF tested its Food for Florida Program, Thursday. State workers played hurricane victims with nowhere else to turn.

But that has never happened. The new system has been in place since 2007 and has never been needed. But with just two weeks until hurricane season DCF is testing the equipment and once again hoping they won't have to use it.




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