Drill: Hurricane during RNC in Tampa

State emergency workers prepared for worst


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Hurricane season is just 10 days away and the state is preparing for the worst.

An emergency drill being held this week lays out a nightmare scenario when some of the country's most powerful people are in Florida.

The Republican National Convention is being held in Tampa in August, the peak of hurricane season. With that in mind, the state's Emergency Operations Center is preparing as if there were a category four hurricane on its way to the area during that time.

The week-long drill puts the convention in the path of faux Hurricane Gispert.

In this scenario, 50,000 delegates, journalists and protestors, mostly from out of state, need to be evacuated. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other notable politicians will be in Tampa during that time, but Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon said the Secret Service will handle evacuating dignitaries.

"We'll work very closely with the Secret Service and some of the other agencies responsible for their protection to make sure they are apprised of any potential consequences for server weather and any other event that could occur to make sure they get those folks to safety," Koon said.

The National Guard will have 9,000 soldiers on stand-by.

"This is a hurricane, so it's basically search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, providing food, ice and water," Col. Mike Canzoneri said.

The missing piece in all this controlled chaos is Gov. Rick Scott, who is in Spain that week on a trade mission. If this were a real emergency, Scott would oversee the response and use the podium at the Emergency Operations Center to update the public.

If the governor is in Tampa for the convention as expected, there are plans to allow him to address the public from Hillsborough County. The state has been developing its emergency response plan with RNC organizers for more than a year.

"To the extent that there's a threat, a hurricane, health, life, safety come first. We evacuate people," said Ken Jones, of the RNC host committee.

Hurricanes can scare major events away from Florida in summer months. By preparing for the worst case scenario, emergency workers hope to show the world they're ready for anything.

Several meteorologists are predicting a mild 2012 hurricane season with just 10 named storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its predictions Thursday.

Hurricane Season begins June 1.