Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, it’s the mantra of employees at Florida’s Emergency Operation Center.
It’s so ingrained in their DNA that back in May emergency managers worked a scenario, where a category four hurricane hit Tampa on the second day of the Republican National Convention.
“We have been working on this for a year and a half,” said Bryan Koon.
Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon picked the right scenario. A situation similar to the drill is developing. Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to become a hurricane and could make landfall in Florida, although it’s less intense than the storm in the drill.
“It is better to exercise for a stronger storm so that you are prepared for a lesser event when it comes by, but it still could potentially be right now a category one or a category two hurricane when it makes landfall sometime in Florida over the weekend or next week,” said Koon.
Regardless of what happens with Isaac there are already plans in place to go to a level two activation here at the Emergency Operation Center for national security reasons.
A level two activation means, departments and agencies directly involved in the disaster will be in the Emergency Operations Center. Level One means all hands on deck. Koon says the storm may force a level one activation.
“We will likely go a bit earlier depending on the path of the storm.”
And if an evacuation is ordered in Tampa, Koon has already worked out an escape plan with the Secret Service for political dignitaries.
Governor Rick Scott released this statement Wednesday saying:
“Although Tropical Storm Isaac is still far from Florida’s shores, we are closely tracking the potential for the storm to impact part or all of the state, including the Tampa Bay region during the Republican National Convention. Florida’s state emergency management team and local emergency teams have been working closely with convention officials and have been planning for this event for more than a year, and the possibility of a hurricane hitting the convention has been part of that planning process.
“I am confident in our preparation, and the decision process in place to ensure the safety of both our residents and visitors during the convention.
“As Florida’s governor, I’m urging everyone across the state to monitor the storm track, and use the next several days to prepare for a potential storm. As we know, storms this far from land are still unpredictable and everyone should be vigilant and prepared.”