Tropical Storm Isaac continues to threaten. The storm had people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands bracing for torrential rain and Republican leaders wondering if Isaac might rain on their parade and the party’s national convention in Tampa, Fla.
Earlier on Aug. 23, flooding was reported in eastern and southern regions of Puerto Rico as Isaac approached.
Forecasters said the storm could become a hurricane – Category 1 – by Aug. 24, as it neared the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Some preliminary forecasts show the storm heading to Florida by Aug. 27, the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Other models showed the storm going west into the Gulf of Mexico, not posing a direct threat to Florida but possibly threatening Mexico or the western U.S. Gulf states.
Mid-morning Aug. 23, Isaac was about 200 miles south-southeast of Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds were reported at 40 mph.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said local, state and federal emergency management officials were monitoring Isaac. “Public safety will always trump politics. And so my job, and our job, if we move into that mode, is to make sure we get people out of harm’s way,” he said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said later that Republican officials would make the call on the convention.
Soon after that, party leaders issued statements.
William Harris, CEO of the Republican National Convention, said, “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. 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. We continue to move forward with our planning and look forward to a successful convention.”
RNC chairman Reince Priebus’ statement didn’t mention Isaac: “We are just days away from the Republican National Convention where we will officially nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as the ticket who will get America working again. The Republican Party is ready for the mission ahead: sending America’s Comeback Team to Washington to rein in federal spending and put Americans back to work. While President Obama is out of ideas, we have candidates for president and vice president who are uniquely qualified to answer the challenges of our time, and we look forward to helping them get elected in November.”
Mid-afternoon on Aug. 23, emergency management officials in several Florida counties announced briefings on the storm, including discussions about evacuations, would take place on Aug. 24.
Manatee County, Fla., emergency management chief Laurie Feagans advised residents: “Have your hurricane plan ready and make a hurricane disaster kit. This storm will bring rain and tropical force winds. The ground is already saturated, so people should be especially mindful of high winds that could topple trees.”
On the Web: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov