Tag Archives: hurricane

Driven out: Housing crisis looms in flood-stricken Louisiana

With an estimated 40,000 homes damaged by deadly flooding, Louisiana could be looking at its biggest housing crunch since the miserable, bumbling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.

People whose homes were swamped by some of the heaviest rains Louisiana has ever seen are staying in shelters, bunking with friends or relatives, or sleeping in trailers on their front lawns. Others unable or unwilling to leave their homes are living amid mud and the ever-present risk of mold in the steamy August heat.

Many victims will need an extended place to stay while they rebuild. Countless others didn’t have flood insurance and may not have the means to repair their homes. They may have to find new places altogether.

“I got nowhere else to go,” said Thomas Lee, 56, who ekes out a living as a drywall hanger — a skill that will come in handy. His sodden furniture is piled at the curb and the drywall in his rented house is puckering, but Thomas still plans to keep living there, sleeping on an air mattress.

Exactly how many will need temporary housing is unclear, but state officials are urging landlords to allow short-term leases and encouraging people to rent out any empty space.

“If you have a unit that’s an old mother-in-law suite and you can rent it out, let us know,” said Keith Cunningham, who heads the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the state housing agency.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose very name became a punchline during Katrina, said it will look into lining up rental properties for those left homeless and also consider temporary housing units.

But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gave assurances that the temporary units won’t be the old FEMA travel trailers — a reference to the ones brought in after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that were found to have toxic levels of formaldehyde.

The flooding that has struck the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas has left at least 13 people dead.

More than 30,000 have been rescued, and at least 70,000 have registered for federal disaster assistance.

At the height, 11,000 people were staying in shelters, though that had dropped to 6,000 by Wednesday.

For the foreseeable future, home for Carolyn Smith, her husband, two grown sons and a family friend will be a 30-foot travel trailer supplied by a relative. It has one bedroom, a sofa-sleeper, four bunks and one bathroom.

It sits in the driveway of the home she and her husband lived in for 48 years in Denham Springs. Nearby lies a pile of stinking debris pulled from the flooded, one-story wood-frame home.

Smith and her husband are both in their 70s and on fixed incomes. She said she’s not sure how they will make it in coming months as they try to rebuild the house, which took on more than 4 feet of water.

“We’re starting over again. From rock bottom,” she said. “At our age that’s kind of rough.”
In a sign of the housing crunch, Livingston Parish officials are talking with FEMA about getting temporary housing for emergency and rescue workers. An estimated 75 percent of the homes in the parish of 138,000 residents were a total loss.

Those with flood insurance will be in a much better place to begin rebuilding — but there won’t be many of them.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said that only 12 percent of the homes in hard-hit Baton Rouge were covered by flood insurance, and only 14 percent in Lafayette.

Across the flood-stricken area, many residents said they weren’t required to have flood insurance and didn’t have it, since nothing remotely like this had ever happened before.

“My father’s owned this place for 70 years. Never seen it like this. We never thought we needed it,” said Chris Bankston, owner of an auto parts place in the Livingston Parish town of Albany where workers were shoveling debris.

Water crept into his parking lot Friday night, and by Sunday his gasoline pumps were covered. Floodwaters had never come within 200 yards of the place before, he said.

FEMA said more than 9,000 flood claims have been filed with the agency.

Anyone with flood damage is eligible for FEMA aid of close to $33,000 — far less than many people without flood insurance will need to repair and replace their damaged property. The maximum payout under a home flood insurance policy is $250,000.

Joseph Bruno, a New Orleans lawyer who is a veteran of the Katrina insurance wars, fears the greatest needs could be borne by elderly residents who paid off their homes and weren’t required by their bank to carry flood insurance.

Ronald Robillard, 57, and his 65-year-old brother, William Robillard, have been living next door to each other in Baton Rouge homes owned by the older brother. Since both places flooded, they have been sleeping at a shelter at night and cleaning up the homes by day.

William owns the homes free and clear. He doesn’t have flood insurance to pay for the repairs but isn’t waiting for any government aid.

“I figure by fixing it up one room at a time, we’ll be fine,” William said.

“If they give us help, fine,” Ronald added. “We ain’t looking for a handout. Just a hand. That’s a true statement.”

On the web

Updates from the White House.

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Global disasters killed more, cost less in 2013

The German insurance company Munich Re says some 20,000 people died in natural disasters last year, about twice as many as in 2012.

Most of the deaths resulted from Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines, Vietnam and China in November with a loss of almost 6,100 lives. This was followed by floods in India that killed about 5,500 people in June.

Munich Re’s annual disasters report released Tuesday found that the economic cost of natural catastrophes was lower last year.

Some 880 events cost about $125 billion, with insured losses of $31 billion. This compares with costs of $173 billion and insured losses of $65 billion in 2012.

The costliest natural disasters were summer hailstorms in Germany, floods in Central Europe, and storms and tornadoes in the United States.

Katrina drama is Paul Walker’s finest hour

An ingeniously simple setup is cunningly exploited for maximum suspense in “Hours,” a slow-building, consistently engrossing drama set during and immediately after the devastation wrought on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

Making a most impressive debut as feature helmer, scripter Eric Heisserer graduates from savvy genre fare (“Final Destination 5”) to more mainstream moviemaking with this intense tale of a father’s desperate efforts to keep his prematurely born daughter alive in a hospital abandoned after power is knocked out by flooding.

The late Paul Walker (“Fast & Furious”) capably and compellingly rises to the demands of the role of Nolan Hayes, a loving husband who races his pregnant wife Abigail to a New Orleans hospital when she goes into labor unexpectedly. Onscreen titles announce the extent of the couple’s wrong-place/wrong-time hospital arrival: the early hours of Aug. 29, 2005, just as gale-force winds caused by Katrina relentlessly pummel the Crescent City.

Abigail dies during childbirth, but the stunned Nolan has little time to mourn. His newborn child is placed in a ventilator, where, a doctor explains, she must remain for at least 48 hours. Unfortunately, when the city’s levee system fails, floodwaters force the evacuation of the hospital. Worse still, the ventilator cannot be moved, so Nolan must remain behind with his daughter until help arrives.

It’s a long wait.

Through effective use of actual newscasts from the period, “Hours” underscores a brutal irony — Katrina actually missed New Orleans, but the levee breaks caused flooding in 80 percent of the city — while establishing the full measure of the threat facing Nolan and his newborn. When the power cuts off and backup generators fail, he must repeatedly crank a backup battery that works, at best, for three minutes between crankings, while scavenging for food and supplies throughout the hospital.

At one point, his spirits are lifted by the seemingly miraculous appearance of a rescue dog. But then other, far less welcome visitors arrive.

A few supporting players (including Kerry Cahill as a sympathetic nurse) are used fleetingly but effectively, and Genesis Rodriguez makes a strong impression with limited screen time in flashbacks. For the most part, though, “Hours” is practically a one-man show, with Walker alone on-camera for lengthy stretches as Nolan passes time talking to his baby, or himself, and dashing hither and yon between battery-cranks while on beat-the-clock explorations and supply runs.

The new father pushes himself to the point of exhaustion and beyond in ways that will ring true, and perhaps profoundly unsettle, simpatico parents watching the pic.

Walker gracefully balances the drama on his shoulders. His character’s situation seems all the more dire as Heisserer shrewdly amps up the tension with Benjamin Wallfisch’s propulsive musical score, Jaron Presant’s nimble lensing and Sam Bauer’s sharp editing.

It’s worth noting that “Hours” was filmed almost entirely inside a former New Orleans hospital that actually had to be closed after suffering massive flood damage in the wake of Katrina. That might help explain the pic’s overall air of verisimilitude, which only serves to enhance its impact.

“Hours,” a Film Arcade release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “thematic elements, violence and drug material.” Running time: 97 minutes.

2012: A YEAR OF TURBULENCE AND ALTERED LANDSCAPES

It was a year of storms, of raging winds and rising waters, but also broader turbulence that strained our moorings. Our atmosphere, our politics, our economy – rarely in memory have they seemed in such constant agitation.

Our emotions, too. In the year’s final weeks, amid a torrent of tears in a heartbroken Connecticut town, a rush of grief seemed to wash over all of us from the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults in an elementary school, and of the shooter’s mother in her home. The senselessness and loss plumbed depths of sorrow and outrage we had not felt, together, for many years.

But if 2012 battered us with floods and tempests, and seemed especially dark in its final days, it was also perhaps more distinctively a year of mornings after, when clouds parted and dawn’s light fell upon altered landscapes.

Surveying the changes, we were sometimes sanguine, at other times distraught.

There were, of course, the storms themselves, taking not just ferocious but sometimes freakish forms. Americans saw an unusually warm winter, spring tornadoes, summer drought, and a band of concentrated, hurricane-scale thunderstorms that taught millions the word “derecho.”

Autumn brought Hurricane Sandy and a wintry nor’easter that disrupted millions of lives and killed hundreds, many swept from their homes in communities with safe-sounding names like New York’s Breezy Point and the Rockaways that unexpectedly entered the lexicon of global disaster zones.

When the waters did recede, they revealed a country perhaps one step readier to confront difficult questions: Is our planet changing, and are we responsible? Even more abruptly, the Connecticut killing spree seemed in one terrible day to bring the long-dormant issue of gun control to the political forefront.

Sandy may also have boosted President Barack Obama in the last days of a close-run re-election campaign that was nothing if not a storm itself – a seemingly endless $6 billion typhoon of negativity that simply exhausted Americans, particularly in a handful of swing states on whose airwaves it made landfall.

But it ended at last, and if the outcome seemed to affirm the status quo, it also laid bare a political topography reshaped by changing demographics.

Just over half the country, disproportionately the young and minority, celebrated Obama’s re-election, and three states became the first to approve gay marriage at the ballot box. Among those on the losing side, older and whiter as a group, some were genuinely shocked by the result, and expressed sadness in the conviction that an America that felt familiar to them was slipping away.

After nearly half a decade, rays of sunlight at last shone on the American economy. Unemployment, though still uncomfortably high, fell below 8 percent for the first time in more than three years. Housing began to rebound. Though political gridlock threatened to undermine it, recovery seemed at last at hand.

Yet the flickering revival also illuminated how much may have changed forever. Factories were hiring again, but often couldn’t find workers with the needed qualifications. A college degree was the increasingly unforgiving divider between the haves and have-nots, fueling anxiety over its rising price.

One 2012 study reached the remarkable conclusion that even during the depths of the worst recession in the lifetimes of most Americans, the number of jobs available to people with a bachelor’s degree never stopped increasing. And even when the economy picked up in 2012, the number of available jobs for those with only a high school diploma continued to decline. In other words, for those with a college degree, the Great Recession never happened. For those without one, it may never end.

Amid great sorrow, there was no shortage of wondrous human achievement in 2012.

Felix Baumgartner, a 42-year-old former car mechanic from Austria, rode a balloon-tugged capsule to the edge of space. Then, as millions watched breathlessly online, he opened the hatch, paused momentarily, and stepped into the void. He tumbled for nine minutes and 24 miles, breaking the sound barrier, before deploying a parachute and landing safely in the New Mexico desert.

No less thrillingly to some, scientists in Switzerland tied the final string of a knot that explains the most elementary workings of the universe: the “standard model” of physics. With the words, “I think we have it,” they announced with virtual certainty they had found the so-called Higgs boson “God particle.” It was an answer to one of the most basic but bedeviling questions imaginable: Where does mass come from?

At the London Olympics, Jamaican Usain Bolt proved himself the greatest sprinter of all-time, and Baltimore swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian. But for the Americans, victory in the medal table was driven by women -a reward, on the 40th anniversary of Title IX, for a broad-based culture of sports participation. The defining image: 16-year-old gymnast Gabby Douglas, suspended with seemingly impossible fluidity and grace at the apex of her jump from a balance beam, en route to the all-around gold medal.

British athletes also exceeded expectations, and after years of grumbling over costs and inconvenience, the hosts seemed actually to enjoy themselves. The opening ceremonies touched all the right notes, celebrating a multicultural nation sufficiently confident in its virtues of cleverness, artistry and humor to resist trying to outdo the Beijing extravaganza four years ago. From Mary Poppins to Monty Python, from a sky-diving queen to Mr. Bean, it was a palpable hit.

There were, as always, those who let us down. Lance Armstrong, the supposedly superhuman cyclist stripped of seven Tour de France titles, humiliated by a meticulous official report that painted him a cheat and a bully. Revered general and CIA director David Petraeus, taken down by an affair with a fawning biographer. Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, carted off to prison for 30-to-60 years for child sex abuse.

Internationally, there was no shortage of storms in 2012, though less in the way of resolution. Old enmities and grievances resurfaced in the Middle East, clouding the legacy of the 2011 Arab spring. The number of dead in the Syrian civil war passed 40,000. Israeli and Palestinian civilians suffered through another escalation of the conflict in Gaza.

In Libya, four Americans, including much-loved ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in an attack on the Benghazi consulate that became yet another point of bitter political dispute in Washington.

The European Union accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, but its grand experiment with a single currency teetered. Greeks rioted against austerity, and anti-immigrant groups harking back to the continent’s fascist past drew energy from the despair. Spain, Portugal and Italy struggled to right themselves and offer a way forward to an emerging generation that has never tasted opportunity.

Beneath the biggest headlines there were stories where one might spot distant clouds on the horizon – clouds with the potential, at least, to gather into storms.

In February, Congress set in motion planning to open U.S. civilian airspace to unmanned aircraft by 2015. Will domestic drones make possible heretofore unimaginable conveniences, transform our economy and make us safer? Or, as some fear, will they usher in a “surveillance society” where prying eyes above compromise the privacy of every home and back yard?

In September, China unveiled its first aircraft carrier. Will it herald an arms race and future conflict? Or does it merely highlight the wide military gap between the United States and any rival? And will China’s slowing economy prove a manageable correction, or the first rumblings of an economic and political earthquake?

In November, in the magnificent but seemingly cursed Great Lakes region of East Africa, refugees again streamed past bodies of the dead, fleeing into the mountains. The city of Goma, Congo, fell to a few hundred rebels, allegedly supported by next-door Rwanda, as United Nations peacekeepers stood by. Would this prove merely another flare-up in a beautiful but crowded and long-suffering corner of the world? Or was it the re-ignition of a conflict that – unbeknownst to much of the world – was the deadliest on earth since World War II, claiming more than 5 million lives during the late 1990s and early 2000s?

Yes, some clouds did part in 2012. But there remained no dearth of the grieving and the suffering, on whom “the sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch” – in the words of Shakespeare’s famous take on tempests – and who anxiously awaited what the dawning light of 2013 would reveal.

NY assesses Fire Island post-Sandy

New Yorkers who cherish Fire Island as an idyllic summertime getaway feared the worst when the 32-mile-long barrier island took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy’s powerful surge. The wall of water swamped nearly the entire island, destroyed or washed away about 200 homes and scraped sand dunes down to nothing.

Still, residents are counting their blessings.

That’s because more than 4,000 structures survived, at least enough to be repaired. And some are crediting the carefully maintained wall of dunes, ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall, with taking the brunt of the storm’s fury.

“The dunes were demolished, but without their protection it would have been much worse,” said Malcolm Bowman, a professor of physical oceanography at Stony Brook University.

Evidence of the hit the dunes absorbed is everywhere. A half-mile from the ocean, a blizzard of sand covers bicycles up to the handlebars. Wooden pilings are all that remain of stairs and walkways that passed over dunes and led down to the beach. A football-field-size network of concrete blocks that once sat under 6 feet of sand lay bare in the autumn sunshine. Houses on stilts that once peeked over sand berms now sit naked to the surf.

New Yorkers know Fire Island as their own private paradise, a close-to-home getaway that’s accessible only by ferry and feels like a different country. The strip of beaches five miles off the south shore of Long Island is three-fourths undeveloped and includes a national wilderness area.

It has just 300 permanent residents, but on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the population is swelled by 75,000 visitors who rent homes ranging in size from multilevel palaces to rustic bungalows. A couple of communities are favorite destinations of gay and lesbian visitors. Cars are banned in the summertime; denizens get around on bikes and boardwalks and tote their gear in red toy wagons.

Because of its remoteness, officials have only begun in the past week or so to allow the residents, and the others who own vacation homes and businesses, to return and assess the damage.

Retired electrical contractor Hyman Portnoy, whose two-story oceanfront home in the village of Ocean Beach suffered damage to its large deck, said rebuilding the dunes is a major concern.

“We haven’t got any protection now,” he said. “I’d be satisfied with anything. I’d be satisfied with a pile.”

Suzy Goldhirsch, president of the Fire Island Association, which represents businesses and homeowners, noted that homeowners in many Fire Island communities – there are 17 different villages and hamlets – pay part of their property taxes to maintain the dunes.

But she expects the federal government will be asked to fund some of the dune restoration, arguing that maintaining the barrier island serves to protect not just Fire Island, but also the homes of the 3 million Long Islanders on the mainland.

Critics of federal funding of beach and dune replenishment say U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t pick up the tab for beaches enjoyed by only a fraction of the population. Replenishment backers counter that Congress has approved recovery funds for other disasters including Hurricane Katrina and last year’s tornadoes in Missouri.

The work of replacing sand dunes that washed away in the storm is already under way. Workers are scooping up sand from the streets, putting it in bags and piling it up where the dunes once stood.

Ocean waves demolished at least nine houses, left in splinters on the oceanfront, and about 200 others are severely damaged and likely to be condemned. Dozens of other homes appear uninhabitable without major repairs. Others are covered in muck several inches deep.

“Decimated,” Ocean Beach artist Kenny Goodman said last week as he returned to the shop he has owned for a quarter-century. When he first saw the damage from flooding in his store, he said, he was “really overwhelmed and sad – it’s just a gigantic loss.”

Goodman, a New Yorker who has been coming to Fire Island for 40 years, said he plans to rebuild his shop. “It will be different. Maybe by my grandchildren’s time it will be back,” but he also lamented, “It won’t be like it was.”

The Atlantic Ocean breached the narrow island in three places. Two of the breaches are being closed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the National Park Service is evaluating whether a third breach should be closed by the Army Corps or allowed to close naturally.

As far as rebuilding, many jurisdictions – federal, state, county, town and local – will have a say in what can and can’t be rebuilt, said Fire Island National Seashore Superintendent Chris Soller. New York state has regulations about who can rebuild in some designated coastal erosion zones, although an official with the town of Brookhaven, which oversees some of the westernmost communities of the island’s 17 hamlets and villages, said special variances could be issued in some cases to allow rebuilding in those zones.

Fire Island, like many Northeast communities harmed by Sandy, is beginning to reassess where and how to rebuild, Goldhirsch said.

“It’s part of a new national dialogue,” she said. “The governor has said he wants to rebuild smarter and better, and I think we have to think about how we are going to do this so it’s better in the future. We have a lot to think about; there are no easy answers, no one answer.”

Political leaders need to come up with a long-term plan for future development on the island, said Bowman, the Stony Brook professor.

“Not just a rapid-fire reaction to a catastrophe; this is going to happen again,” he said. “Some of these things are going to be very expensive decisions, and we need a longer perspective.”

NY shelter for homeless LGBT kids struggles after Sandy

An emergency center for homeless LGBT youth is struggling to recover after Superstorm Sandy wiped out its humble Manhattan space.

“It was a disaster in a disaster,” said Carl Siciliano, the founder and executive director of the Ali Fortney Center. The Oct. 29 storm waters wrecked the street-level center near the Hudson River, which provided showers, medical care, education guidance and temporary housing help. Some services were temporarily relocated to a nearby LGBT community center.

The center now is raising money to rebuild the drop-in facility in the Chelsea neighborhood. Many of the youth who use the center have been kicked out by their families and live wherever they can find a warm spot.

On Sunday, the center staff organized a fundraiser co-hosted by actress Ally Sheedy and photographer Mike Ruiz. 

The New York City Council says LGBT youth represent about half the city’s nearly 4,000 homeless children. About 150 young people would arrive daily at Ali Forney looking for a bed. Two hundred city shelter beds are reserved for youth, and Ali Forney can offer only 77.

“Every day is a disaster at the Ali Forney Center,” said Siciliano. “And this was the biggest crisis in our 10-year history.”

About $400,000 must be raised to replace what was lost in Superstorm Sandy; the money will go toward a new 24-hour site in Harlem.

The center is named for a homeless young man who was shot to death on a Manhattan street.

On the Web… 

http://www.aliforneycenter.org

A message from the director…

Center director Carl Siciliano posted this message on the Web: 

Dear Friends,

On Friday we were finally able to inspect our drop-in center in Chelsea, half a block from the Hudson River. Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers, refrigerator, food and supplies.

This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there. This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.

We are currently scrambling for a plan to provide care to these desperate kids while we prepare to ultimately move into a larger space that will better meet our needs. The NYC LGBT Center has very kindly and generously offered to let us temporarily use some of their space,…. Also,  I am especially thankful that none of our housing sites were affected by the hurricane and that none of our clients or staff were injured by the storm.

It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many of these kids coming to our drop-in center provided  their first encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community.

I thank all of you for your care and support in a most difficult time.

Republican National Convention opens, recesses

Republican officials, after calling a rain delay for Monday, released a revised schedule for their national convention this week on the Florida Gulf Coast.

The rain delay was forced by forecasts for Tropical Storm Isaac, which late last showed the storm developing into a hurricane with Tampa in its potential path.

Today (Aug. 27), with Isaac moving on a northwest path, not even severe tropical storm conditions had materialized in the area. But concerns were high for New Orleans.

The convention was gaveled open at 2 p.m. today and then quickly put into recess until Aug. 28. The revised convention schedule, with speakers reassigned to a three-day program instead of a four-day program, is:

Tuesday, Aug. 28

2 p.m.: Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus, Color Guard Knights of Columbus, Pledge of Allegiance by former Gov. Tim Babcock of Montana and Tom Hogan of Florida, National anthem sung by Philip Alongi, Invocation by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Opening procedural steps, appointment of convention committees, Welcoming remarks, and House and Senate candidates and RNC auxiliaries, RNC chairman Priebus, RNC co-chairman Sharon Day, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Convention CEO William Harris, Chairman of Tampa Bay Host Committee Al Austin, Republican congressional candidates, state Del. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Rep. Tim Griffin or Arkansas, Republican Senate candidates, Republican National Committee auxiliaries, Consideration of convention committee reports, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, Committee on Credentials chairman Mike Duncan, Committee on Permanent Organization chairwoman Zoraida Fonalledas, House Speaker John Boehner, Official convention photograph, Committee on Rules chairman John Sununu, Committee on Resolutions chairman Gov. Bob McDonnell, Committee on Resolutions co-chairman U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, Committee on Resolutions co-chairman U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Roll Call for nomination of president, Roll Call for nomination of vice president.

6:40 p.m.: Recess.

7:00 p.m.: Reconvene, Remarks by House Speaker John Boehner, Remarks by RNC chairman Reince Priebus, Video and remarks by Mayor Mia Love of Utah, Remarks by actress Janine Turner, Remarks by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Remarks by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

8 p.m.: Remarks by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, accompanied by Jack Gilchrist, Remarks by Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, Remarks by Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Remarks by Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, accompanied by Bev Gray, Remarks by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. 

9 p.m: Remarks by Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Remarks by Sher Valenzuela, a small business owner and candidate for Delaware lieutenant governor), Remarks by Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, Remarks by Artur Davis, Remarks by Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolian.

10 p.m.: Remarks by Mrs. Luce’ Vela Fortuno, Remarks by Mrs. Ann Romney, Keynote remarks by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Benediction by Sammy Rodriguez, Adjournment.

Wednesday, Aug. 29

7 p.m.: Convention convenes, Call to order, Introduction of Colors by Amputee Veterans of America Support Team, Pledge of Allegiance by retired Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Rea, US Army, National Anthem sung by Ayla Brown, Invocation by Ishwar Singh, Ron Paul video, Remarks by Sen. Republican leader and convention temporary chairman Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Remarks by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Remarks by Christopher Devlin-Young and Jeanine McDonnell.

8 p.m.: Remarks by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Remarks by Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida and Attorney General Sam Olens of Georgia, Remarks by Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Remarks by Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Remarks by Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

9 p.m.: Remarks by Gov. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, Remarks by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, “Bush 41, 43” film, Remarks by cable news host Mike Huckabee.

10 p.m.: Remarks by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Remarks by governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Remarks by vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Benediction by Archbishop Demetrios, Adjournment.

Thursday, Aug. 30

7 p.m.: Convention convenes, Call to order, Introduction of Colors US Central Command Joint Forces Color Guard Team, Pledge of Allegiance by Dylan Nonaka, National Anthem sung by SEVEN, Invocation by Ken and Priscilla Hutchins, Remarks by U.S. Rep. Connie Mack of Florida, “Reagan Legacy” video, Remarks by Newt and Callista Gingrich, Remarks by Craig Romney.

8 p.m.: Remarks by former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, Remarks by Bob White, chairman of Romney for President campaign, Remarks by Grant Bennett, Remarks by Tom Stemberg.

9 p.m.: Remarks by former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Remarks by Jane Edmonds, former Massachusetts Secretary of Workforce, Remarks by Olympians Michael Eruzione, Derek Parra and Kim Rhode.

10 p.m.: Remarks by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Remarks by presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Benediction by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Speaker Boehner declares convention adjourned.

Follow WiG at the RNC, with news updates on www.wisconsingazette.com, on Twitter at wigazette and on Facebook.

Tropical Storm Isaac churns in Caribbean, threatens to crash GOP convention

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