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Florida governor says GOP convention is still a go despite severe storm threat

By Kathleen Haughney, Sun Sentinel –

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday that there are no plans to cancel the Republican National Convention, despite the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac.

“Right now, there’s not an anticipation that there will be a cancellation,” Scott told reporters.

In Tampa, the chief executive officer of the convention also put out a statement saying that staff was planning to go ahead as planned.

“The Republican National Convention and the Republican National Committee, working in consultation with the Romney/Ryan campaign, are in regular contact with the National Weather Service, Gov. Scott and local emergency officials in an effort to track and understand the potential impact of the storm,” said William Harris.

“Gov. Scott and local emergency officials have assured us that they have the resources in place to respond to this storm should it make landfall, as our primary concern is with those in the potential path of the storm. We will continue to work closely with them and federal officials to monitor the storm and discuss any impact it might have on the Tampa area and the state of Florida.”

Isaac was moving west in the Caribbean Thursday afternoon. If it continues on its current route, it could hit the Florida Keys Monday and pass offshore of Tampa Tuesday as a full-blown hurricane. Scott added that it was “too early to tell” how much of an effect it could have because the storm could potentially dissipate or continue westward.

“Obviously we’re hopeful it doesn’t hit Florida, but we must take every precaution,” Scott said.

Scott said that the emergency management officials are having twice daily briefings with RNC officials, plus local and federal emergency management teams.

The convention brings in 4,500 delegates, plus alternates, and tens of thousands of media and politicians attending the event. That would complicate an evacuation should the storm worsen and hit the Tampa area.

Scott said the decision to cancel the event would lie with the RNC. But if the county or state ordered an evacuation, it is unlikely that the event would go forward.

State, local and federal emergency officials did actually run through scenarios where a hurricane hit the Tampa area during a major event such as the RNC. In May, they ran a full scale drill where officials did not know ahead of time where the storm would hit and any complications that it would cause.

Scott said the state was ready to go.

“The state’s prepared,” he said. “We’ve gone through hurricanes.”

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