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Entries in Hurricane Isaac (8)

Friday
Aug312012

Obama to Visit Louisiana in Isaac’s Wake

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will visit Louisiana on Monday to assess the damage in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, the White House announced Friday.

“Our hearts are obviously with all the folks who are down in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. Our prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones. And I’ve directed the federal government to keep doing everything that it can to help our partners at the state and local level. As a country, we stand united with our fellow Americans in their hour of need,” the president told troops at Fort Bliss Friday.

The White House announced the upcoming trip just hours before newly-minted GOP nominee Mitt Romney visited New Orleans to survey the aftermath of the storm.

In a last-minute change of plans, Romney traveled Friday to Louisiana where he met with the state's Gov. Bobby Jindal and observed the damage caused by the storm. He had initially planned to rally in Virginia with his running mate, Paul Ryan.

“I’m here to learn and obviously to draw some attention to what’s going here,” Romney told Jindal. “So that people around the country know that people down here need help.”

Romney spent 45-minutes in a closed-door meeting with Jindal, Sen. David Vitter and other local officials before emerging and meeting with several locals who appeared to be displaced after the storm.

According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the decision for the president to travel to Louisiana was made prior to Romney’s announcement about his trip Friday.

Asked about Romney’s visit, Carney said, “I think that it’s always important to draw attention to the fact that individuals and families and business owners are profoundly affected by storms like Isaac, and that’s an important thing to do.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Romney Visits Storm-Ravaged Area, Meets with Officials in Louisiana

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(KENNER, La.) -- Mitt Romney traveled Friday in the storm-ravaged state of Louisiana, meeting with Gov. Bobby Jindal and surveying damage caused by Hurricane Isaac.

“I’m here to learn and obviously to draw some attention to what’s going here,” Romney told Jindal. “So that people around the country know that people down here need help.”

Romney, staff members, the National Guard and a small group of press traveled in high water vehicles through flooded regions in Jefferson Parish, one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Isaac, passing submerged gas stations and flooded homes. The motorcade passed a sign on a home that read, “Where is our levee protection,” as well as people who watched Romney pass from small boats in the floodwaters that would usually be front lawns.

Romney asked Jindal about the number of people in shelters as well as where the bulk of the water was coming from -- rivers, the sky or tidal surges -- but their conversation took place out of earshot of reporters.

Then Romney spent 45-minutes in a closed-door meeting with Jindal, Sen. David Vitter and other local officials before emerging and meeting with several women who were standing in a parking lot barefoot in t-shirts and shorts.

Jodie Chiarello, 42 of Jean Lafitte, was one of the women who spoke with Romney and said she had told him, “I lost everything.”

“He said that he was going to do the best that he could for us.” Chiarello, a Republican who declined to say who she was voting for, said she was pleased Romney visited to be “supportive.”

“He’s good, he’ll do the best for us, he has our best interests at heart,” she said of the candidate, adding that he was different than she’d expected.

“I thought he’d be more like a politician, but it was more understanding and caring,” she said. “He was caring.”

Romney told the women that FEMA could point them in the direction of shelters.

During a September debate, Romney was asked what he thought should be done with FEMA, which has come under funding issues in the past year. Asked if he agreed with those who say states should take on more of role in federal disaster relief, Romney said, “Absolutely.”

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states that’s the right direction,” he said. “And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector that’s even better. Instead of thinking in the federal budget what we should cut, we should ask ourselves the opposite question, what should we keep. We should take all of what we are doing at the federal level and say what are things we are doing that we don’t have to do, and those things we’ve gotta stop doing.”

Romney, who announced his visit to the region earlier Friday, has been weighing a trip here all week. President Obama announced later that afternoon that he will travel to Louisiana on Monday.

Asked whether he thought it was inappropriate for Romney to have visited the region before the President, Romney senior adviser Stuart Stevens said he did not.

“I’ve never heard that being a factor in this at all. The convention’s over, this is happening. Now it’s not as disruptive because it’s not in the middle of the storm. And it’s important to see it and show support for the people. Get a briefing from the Governor,” said Stevens. “I think that it helps draw attention to these people, and their plight, and the situation, it’s a way for him to brief governor Romney and I think it’s going to take an hour and a half.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, asked earlier what a private citizen like Romney can accomplish on a visit like the one he made today, said that “it’s always important to draw attention to the fact that individuals and families and business owners are profoundly affected by storms like Isaac, and that’s an important thing to do.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Romney to Visit Areas Damaged by Hurricane Isaac

John Moore/Getty Images(LAKELAND, Fla.) -- In a last minute change of plans, Mitt Romney will head to visit storm affected areas in Louisiana on Friday, skipping a previously scheduled joint rally with Paul Ryan in the battleground state of Virginia Friday afternoon.

A Romney aide told ABC News that Romney will “join [Lousiana] Gov. [Bobby] Jindal and will meet with first responders, thank them for their work and see areas impacted by the storm in LaFitte, La.”

Jindal cancelled his plans earlier this week to attend the Republican National Convention after Hurricane Isaac moved up the Gulf Coast and wreaked damage across Louisiana.  There have so far been two reported deaths in Louisiana as a result of the storm and widespread damage and flooding.  The storm hit on the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The Romney campaign had been working to determine how they could visit the region throughout the week, and made the announcement on Friday.  It's also the same day that Romney was outfitted with his new campaign plane.  The trip to Louisiana will be its maiden voyage.

Later on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney announced aboard Air Force One that President Obama will visit Louisiana on Monday to meet with officials and those impacted by the hurricane.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

DNC Chair Calls RNC ‘Crass’ for Partying in Face of Hurricane Isaac

Vallery Jean/FilmMagic(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke out on Thursday against the Republican National Convention’s handling of Hurricane Isaac, which is causing havoc along the Gulf Coast.  Wasserman Schultz said the RNC “could have taken things down a notch,” during their speeches.

“I think it probably was an example of their continued focus of winning at all costs,” Wasserman Schultz said.

While Wasserman Schultz said she gave the RNC credit for cancelling the first day to put safety first, she noted the parties of special interest groups still went on.

“The bashes were not cancelled [and] went on despite the fact that our state was getting hit with a hurricane and Tampa was still in the path of the storm,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman said even though the RNC was in a challenging situation of having a convention during a devastating storm, there are “other ways they could have handled it other than the path, the way they chose.”

When asked what she thought the RNC should have done, Wasserman Schultz told ABC News that the Republicans could have toned down their program, “certainly in the face of millions getting battered by a storm, they could have been less crass and been a little bit more muted.”

Wednesday night, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez asked for those watching the speeches to contribute to the Red Cross.

“Before I begin tonight, let’s keep in our thoughts and prayers the families impacted by the storm affecting the Gulf Coast.  If you haven’t done so already, please donate to the Red Cross,” Martinez said.

Wasserman Schultz said the RNC should have been even more sensitive to the devastation.

“I think there were adjustments in their program they could have made that would have been more sensitive to the fact the Gulf Coast region was getting pounded by a storm and yet they continued to party,” Wasserman said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Republican Convention First Day Ends Lightning Fast as Storm Swirls

Win McNamee/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- What was to be an opening day of pomp and partying stretching into the night at the Republican National Convention instead lasted all of one minute, as the GOP put on hold its plans to nominate Mitt Romney while the Gulf Coast hunkers down in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac.

At 2 p.m. ET, party chairman Reince Priebus announced the convention "in session and called to order." He declared the convention in recess moments later with the pounding of a gavel.

But Priebus still observed a moment of silence to recognize the first responders expected to deal with the effects of the storm churning its way toward New Orleans.

Many delegates were on the floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but the seats of the huge arena were all but empty.

Priebus also pointed out a special clock that will monitor increases to the national debt during the meeting though Thursday.

Isaac, which is expected to reach hurricane force winds in the next 24 to 48 hours, will now mostly avoid Tampa. But its dark clouds loom over the convention, nevertheless. Priebus and others in the coming days will strike a balance between respectfully monitoring the storm, and ebulliently celebrating their new nominee.

This year's convention was to be a carefully scripted affair, tightly packing in speeches by many of the party's boldest names.

By losing a day of events because of travel delays and bigger fears that the storm would hit Tampa directly, many speakers were rescheduled or simply canceled.

Tuesday's schedule includes the roll call of state delegates' pledging their support for Romney as the nominee, as well as some of the party's fastest-rising stars, many of them long endorsers of Mitt Romney, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The headliner Tuesday is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once considered a potential running mate for Romney. Ann Romney, who was set to speak Monday, will also speak Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the convention will be a veritable sideshow of GOP presidential also-rans.

Unbowed by the weather and by his losing presidential campaign, supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul came out in droves to hear him speak Sunday in Tampa, after he was nixed from speaking at the convention. Other one-time candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann -- are also expected to hold events on the convention sidelines.

Democrats also have set up outside the convention, hunkering down in a "war room" to respond in real time to comments made during the event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Despite Isaac, RNC Delegates Carry On With Beachfront Activities

Win McNamee/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The Republican National Convention has been effectively delayed by a day, but most of the 2286 delegates, plus alternates, are already in town. And they’re not going to let some strong winds and rain get in the way of some pre-planned beach-front activities.

How are they passing the time in the face of Tropical Storm Isaac?

“Business as usual” Mitch Zak, a spokesman for the California delegation told ABC News.

The California delegation hosted a breakfast at their hotel -- the Tradewinds Resort in St. Petersburg, Fla. -- a beachfront resort located across the bridge from the Tampa Bay Times Forum; a somewhat inconvenient location should flooding occur.

“We’ll have a captive audience in more ways than one” Zak joked with regards to the event.

But business as usual seems to be the motto for many of the delegations. The delegation from Iowa said on Sunday, “we’re monitoring the situation, but we’re still at our hotel and planning to hold a breakfast Monday.”

Virginia’s delegation has not yet canceled any events either, a representative told ABC News.

The delegation from Alabama said they were planning some “alternative events” for the day.

“Since the convention is postponed, we are creating an alternative plan for our attendees that includes events such as a showing of the 2016 movie, lunch and more to come,” said Brooks Simmons, spokeswoman for the delegation.

Isaac has the potential to affect Alabama, so several members of the state’s delegation, including their Governor Robert Bentley and Rep. Jo Bonner, have backed out of the convention.

Though a tropical storm warning is currently in effect for Tampa, the latest forecast shows Isaac’s projected path moving west, away from the Florida coast, meaning that things are currently looking positive for these delegates, who have eagerly awaited this event for many months.

For now it looks as though delegates are simply going to enjoy a relaxing day in Florida; albeit not a sunny one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug232012

Florida Governor: No Plans to Cancel GOP Convention

NOAA via Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott Thursday sought to calm fears about a possible hurricane's threatening to close down the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa, telling reporters that "right now there is not any anticipation there will be a cancellation."

Scott said it is "still too early" to know exactly where Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to intensify into a hurricane by Friday, will hit Florida and, thus, too early to make evacuation plans or call off the convention.

By most predictions, bad weather looms ahead for Tampa next week as heavy rains and strong winds are likely to pound the city early Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after the start of the Republican National Convention.

Tropical Storm Isaac is heading along a western track, dumping rain on Puerto Rico Thursday morning and swirling about 1,200 miles off the Florida coast as of 11 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center.

"The hope is this is going to go away, but if it doesn't, the convention is ready, the state is ready and the local communities are ready," Scott said.

While prediction models are notoriously inaccurate this far in advance, Isaac is projected to slam into Haiti Saturday morning and hit Florida about 100 miles west of Tampa in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The city, which by then will be buzzing with about 50,000 Republican delegates, journalists and protesters, could see 70 mph winds, coastal flooding and heavy rains.

"It will be a dangerous situation," ABC meteorologist Max Golembo said. "It's somewhere between the galoshes and Noah's Ark."

Golembo gave the storm a 50 percent chance of hitting Tampa. After the storm passes over the high mountains of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it is expected to dump 20 inches of rain and cause mudslides and flooding, and through Cuba Sunday morning, prediction models will have a clearer picture of how damaging the storm could be for the Tampa Bay area.

While Isaac looks to be heading farther west of Tampa than originally projected, it will likely deliver hurricane-force winds of 75 mph or greater, strong enough to break windows, down trees and damage roofs, Golembo said.

If winds exceed 45 mph, some of the bridges connecting downtown Tampa, where the bulk of the GOP convention action will be, with the hotels where some delegates are staying, will have to be closed, said Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

"There are a lot of low-lying areas in the Tampa Bay area that could be flooded as a result of this, and some of those may be locations where the delegates are housed," Koon said. "Beautiful location, wonderful hotels, but they're oceanfront, so they may be impacted by some storm surge issues."

Both the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the Tampa Convention Center, where the majority of the Republican National Convention's events will take place, overlook the bay and are in evacuation zones.

"If you get a large enough storm in there, there is the potential that the storm surge could drive water up towards them and cause some flooding issues," Koon added.

Republican National Committee spokesman James Davis told ABC News Tuesday that he was "confident we will be able to get the business done of our convention, which is to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

"We are monitoring the storm and we will have more information if it comes closer," Davis said. "Right now, we are looking forward to having a great convention."

Presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Tuesday night that he did not know what the Republican National Committee's plans were for dealing with any bad weather, only that the committee has a plan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug222012

Storm Threatens to Swamp Republican Convention

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Isaac, currently a tropical storm brewing southeast of Puerto Rico, is on track to hit Florida the same day that Mitt Romney and 50,000 Republican delegates, journalists, protestors and guests descend on Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

While it is too early to accurately predict the storm's path, ABC meteorologist Max Golembo said it will hit southern Florida. Whether it will skim the east coast near Miami or crash head-on into Tampa, is still up in the air.

"Any way you take it, it's going to be a wind and rain event in Tampa," Golembo said. "We don't know if it's going to be damaging to Tampa, cancelling the convention or just delaying it."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said today that cancelling the convention is absolutely an option.

"Absolutely we are prepared to call it off," Buckhorn told CNN's Early Start. "Human safety and human life trumps politics. I think the RNC recognizes that. The organizers, certainly Gov. Romney, recognizes that."

"Whatever we do will be based on getting people out of harm's way," Buckhorn continued. "Politics will take second place and all of us recognize that."

As of this morning, the worst possible scenario is that Hurricane Isaac stays on the western track, skating over the Caribbean Sea south of Haiti, crossing the primarily flat landscape of western Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico then curving east and hitting Tampa dead-on.

"Tampa is just as vulnerable as New Orleans was in the sense that the water will funnel into the bay area and from the storm surge which will flood completely the whole entire city of Tampa," Golembo said referring to Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans in 2005.

"It would be a disaster in the Tampa area," Golembo said.

While most prediction models show the storm taking a more eastern track, Golembo said one "very important model," one meteorologists use "a lot," has Isaac slamming directly into Tampa.

"That's why the meteorologists are pulling their hair out right now," Golembo said. "If it was a model we wouldn't care, but it's the model."

Buckhorn said Tampa is "as well equipped and as well prepared as any city could be," for a major weather event during the convention.

"We are prepared for it, we train for it we have contingency plan after contingency plan," he said in the CNN interview. "But I don't think it is going to be a factor in this particular convention, but we are prepared in the event that it is."

The Republican National Convention has been working with local, state and federal authorities for more than a year to create contingency plans in the event this worst case scenario came true. RNC spokesman James Davis told ABC News that convention planners are "monitoring the storm" and "will make sure everyone's health and safety is protected."

"We will release information as we get it. Right now we are looking forward to having a great convention," Davis said. "We are confident we will be able to get the business done of our convention which is to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

Davis would not say when or if the convention would be called off, rescheduled or moved.

Under the best case scenario, the storm could smash into the mountains of Haiti which "would really kill the system," then the weakened storm could sweep over the Bahamas and swirl off the east coast of Florida, bringing strong winds and rain to Miami, but missing Tampa, Golembo said.

In that scenario, Tampa would see 30 mph winds and about 1 inch of rainfall, Golembo said.

The weatherman said, "I don't think they would have to cancel anything."

"Pack an umbrella at least and maybe a poncho and galoshes, but don't quite break out the boats and don't start building the arc," Golembo said.

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