Florida residents are preparing for the arrival of Isaac, the tropical storm that has already led to the delay of the Republican National Convention.
GOP representatives plan to release an updated schedule for the conference on Sunday, accounting for the cancellation of Monday’s opening day. While the storm is not predicted to hit the Tampa Bay area where the convention is being held, the Republican Party has chosen to err on the side of safety. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency, but explained it as standard procedure as the state braces for possible disasters.
“Currently Isaac is a tropical storm that’s expected to become a hurricane as it reaches Key West… then it will move into the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen further,” Meteorologist Jessica Schauer with the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami told USA Today. “Definitely the northern Gulf Coast should be preparing for a hurricane right now.”
Isaac is expecting to reach Category 2 hurricane status, with winds ranging between 96 and 110 miles per hour. A number of Florida’s ports, including the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach shutdown as a part of preparations on Sunday. Palm Beach County opened up three population shelters on Sunday morning as well. The storm struck land in Cuba on Saturday, causing property damage. In Haiti, four were reported dead as Isaac passed through.
Though Tampa will likely be spared the brunt of the storm, convention goers can expect poor weather and rough travel conditions during the week. The Tampa Convention Center, where the majority of the convention events will take place, is located within a high-risk flood zone near the water.
“Next to some of the crowd management issues that we have, transportation is by far the biggest issue well be dealing with over the next five days,” Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said on Saturday.
The now three-day Republican convention matches the length of the Democratic National Convention scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Bill Harris, CEO of the GOP convention, remained optimistic about the new schedule.
“We’re looking forward to a great start on Tuesday and don’t know of any reason operationally why that won’t happen.”