Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Gov. Rick Scott gives Florida delegation a storm update

PALM HARBOR — Florida is weathering Tropical Storm Isaac with few major problems, Gov. Rick Scott told state Republicans today.

About 100,000 people have lost power in the Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. But there are no power outages in Monroe County. About 1,000 people stayed in shelters in South Florida, but those shelters are now being closed and people are returning to their homes.

As Isaac continues on a westward track, and away from Tampa and the Republican National Convention, it seemed likely that the events this week will go on as planned.

Only the Panhandle still faced a threat with evacuations planned, Scott said. He said that Escambia County can expect 30 hours of storm force wind and 16 inches of rain. Meanwhile, the storm seems headed for Louisiana and New Orleans.

"That's a problem," Scott said, who spoke with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Sunday night about the storm.

But Scott said the decision to cancel Monday's events at the RNC was a good one. The storm should still produce a storm surge of three to four inches and winds between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts blowing up to 50 mph.

The tents at the RNC aren't designed to withstand winds of more than 25 mph, Scott said.

"The convention made a good decision," Scott said.

For the next 24 hours, Scott said those in Tampa Bay should just sit tight.

Scott spoke during the kickoff breakfast for the Florida and South Carolina Republican delegations at Innisbrook Resort and Spa, where speakers in the state party leadership and high-profile politicos from across the country will speak every morning through Thursday.

"Stay where you are," he told the delegates. "The RNC was so nice to us that we don't have to worry about the beach. But if you are at the beach, they don't want anyone in the water because of rip tides."

Scott spoke for about 10 minutes and was joined on stage briefly by his mother, Esther.

To monitor the storm, Scott canceled a speech that he was to give to the delegates. He said he'll continue to watch over the storm until at least Wednesday.

"We'll see," he said. "I wish I could participate more in the convention, but as you know the safety of the state comes first. Have a great convention, I'll see you guys soon."

At noon, Scott will hold a short media briefing regarding Florida's preparations and response for Tropical Storm Isaac at the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center in Clearwater.

As Isaac veered farther west, the delegates were allowed to focus on what they came for: politics.

"We're used to this," incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford told the crowd. "This is a normal Monday in August for us. As for these shifting winds, I just wanted to state something: I knew hugs could be powerful, but I really had no idea until yesterday."

That was a dig on former Gov. Charlie Crist, who upset delegates Sunday with a Tampa Bay Times op-ed piece endorsing President Barack Obama. As governor, Crist upset his party when he hugged Obama.

Minutes later, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had an urgent bulletin for delegates that had nothing to do with Isaac. Crist was going to speak at next week's Democratic National Convention. The news drew groans from the audience.

"Unbelievable," Putnam said. "What does he stand for except for himself. He'll wear any costume just to get in the parade."

The crowd laughed and no one mentioned Isaac again.

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