TAMPA--President Barack Obama offered a helping hand on Sunday as Tropical Storm Isaac starts to bear down on Florida--already forcing a day cut from the Republican National Convention meeting here. Florida Gov. Rick Scott--a Republican--who was to speak at the convention, but has called it off for now--has declared a state of emergency.
The full wrath of the storm is expected to hit Monday--with the situation made more complicated because many of the 50,000 convention goers--including the Illinois delegation at Clearwater Beach--are staying at hotels connected to Tampa by long bridges, known here as causeways.
The White House said "President Obama received a briefing on preparations underway for Tropical Storm Isaac, which could become a hurricane as early as today. The FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, and National Hurricane Center Director, Dr. Rick Knabb, briefed the President on the projected track and timing of the storm as well as steps being taken by the Administration to support potentially impacted states.
"During the briefing, the President directed Administrator Fugate to make sure FEMA continues to coordinate closely with state and local officials in potentially impacted states and address the needs of local communities as the storm approaches. FEMA has already deployed teams to Florida and Louisiana ahead of the storm to support state and local preparations, and is in close communication with Alabama and Mississippi and other southeastern states that could be impacted. NOAA's National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Warning for portions of Florida, and a Hurricane Watch has been issued for coastal areas of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
"Following the briefing, the President spoke with Florida Governor Rick Scott to make clear that the Administration, through FEMA, would continue to make resources available as necessary to support the state as the Governor's team prepares for and responds to the storm. The President told the Governor the people of Florida are in his thoughts during this time. The President also told the governor to let him know if there are any unmet needs or additional resources the Administration could provide, including in support of efforts to ensure the safety of those visiting the state for the Republican National Convention.