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Florida official says convention adds wrinkle to hurricane emergency plan

“The folks who come with their own security details, and own entourages, are going to be the least of our worries in this scenario because they will have advance warning and do whatever they need to do to take care of themselves.”

{mosads}Isaac reached tropical storm strength in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, and some forecast models suggest it could hit Florida at hurricane strength by Monday, when the GOP convention opens. 

The chances of an evacuation remain extremely slim, with one estimate from a Weather Underground meteorologist placing it Wednesday at 3 percent. 

The National Hurricane Center’s forecast update on Wednesday morning put Isaac on path to move over the Leeward Islands later today.

Koon said the Republican National Convention will be a small blip on the radar if an evacuation is put into effect. 

Tampa has a population of 346,000 and the surrounding area is home to more than 1 million. The convention is expected to attract more than 50,000 people.

“If a real hurricane makes landfall in Tampa next week, dealing with the [Republican convention] will be important, but it will obviously be a small part of everything we are doing as our total effort in the state,” Koon said.

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National conventions have been held in Florida three other times. Republicans held their convention in Miami Beach in 1968 and 1972. Democrats held their 1972 convention in Miami.

Planning for hurricanes, evacuation plans and inclement weather events are just a reality in hosting events in the state, Koon said.

“Hurricane season is six months long. Everywhere in the state can be impacted, so it is really just a part of being in the state,” he said. “You can’t work around hurricane season, you can’t not do things in the state of Florida for six months just because a hurricane could happen.”

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