Tallahassee, FL -- May 23, 2012 --
It’s May, but for training purposes here at the Florida Emergency Operation Center it’s late August, the height of Hurricane Season.
On what should be the second day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Mock Hurricane Gispert has made landfall just north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
It’s a category three and emergency responders are scrambling to assess the damage and get supplies to people caught in the aftermath. Politics is put on hold.
Reporter: For sake of this drill, the convention is cancelled?
Carroll: For the sake of the drill, yes, and public safety, primary.
Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll says if this scenario were real, safety comes first and the governor, not RNC organizers, makes the call.
“This is his state and public safety is primary,” said Carroll.
Carroll is filling in for Governor Rick Scott during this four day hurricane drill. Scott’s in Spain on a trade mission.
The governor traditionally oversees the response and addresses the public from the Emergency Operation Center here in Tallahassee, but there are plans in place to allow him to lead by remote from Tampa Bay.
Which would allow Scott to continue as head of the Florida delegation and possibly speak at the convention if a hurricane makes land fall in another part of the state.
“We could operate remotely via video teleconference and we could also use Hillsborough County EOC, or Pinellas County EOC, or even our own mobile command vehicle,” said Bryan Koon, the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
But if a storm makes landfall away from Tampa during the convention, the governor is promising to visit the area as soon as it’s safe.
The good news is hurricanes are more predictable than other disasters, so if a storm is heading toward the convention, there will be plenty of warning. In this week’s drill, the call to cancel was made over the weekend. We called RNC organizers to see how they would respond to the scenario and when and where they might reschedule the convention. They never returned our call.