The RNC's evacuation plan - FOX 13 News

The RNC's evacuation plan

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Debby is raising a big question of the Republican National Convention.

What would happen if a similar, or worse, storm hit at the time of the convention?

The parties stage political conventions to be seen, so what happens if they see a tropical storm or hurricane coming? Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew both hit in late August – the time when the RNC will come to Tampa.

"There's such a negative recollection of the GOP and its handling of Katrina with President Bush, the last thing the party wants to do is reignite those kinds of sentiments," USF politics professor Dr. Susan MacManus said.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said Tampa will not put lives at risk.

If a serious storm threatens the Bay area just before the convention, Republicans will likely shorten or cancel it. They would likely not postpone because there would be no time to reschedule.

If a hurricane develops after the delegates arrive, there will be a fleet of charter buses that could route them to safety. If needed, the delegates could nominate Mitt Romney by phone.

"We wanted to make sure we worked through a scenario that could potentially happen," said Bryan Koon of Florida Emergency Management.

State emergency managers have already run drills to test their contingency plans. And we've seen how Republicans responded when a hurricane threatened Louisiana before their last convention in St. Paul.

They scaled back the convention. At one point, John McCain even considered accepting the nomination by satellite so he could focus on storm relief.

And Hurricane Gustav hit more than 1,000 miles away from the convention. Bet that any tropical threat to the Tampa Bay area would trump convention politics.

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