Gov. Scott Urges Florida Families to Plan for Isaac

South Florida remains in forecast cone but with a lot of uncertainty

By Ryan Phillips, Brian Hamacher and Lisa Orkin Emmanuel
|  Thursday, Aug 23, 2012  |  Updated 11:12 PM EDT
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Barry Hall is getting ready for the storm, stocking up on supplies before they run out. Publix store manager said some supplies are already running low.

Barry Hall is getting ready for the storm, stocking up on supplies before they run out. Publix store manager said some supplies are already running low.

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Gov. Rick Scott urged Floridians to have a plan for Tropical Storm Isaac should it hit the state, as the storm shifted slightly to the west and continued moving through the Caribbean Thursday.

Interactive Radar With Isaac's Forecast Tracks

South Florida remained in the forecast cone but with a lot of uncertainty. The current track showed the storm approaching the Florida Keys as a Category 1 hurricane late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

"I think we still can't rule out a direct impact here in South Florida, that's why people should be taking it seriously," said Dan Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

Brown said it was still possible that there could a direct strike to the Keys or southern Florida.

'It's possible that there could be landfall in South Florida," he said.

But even if it doesn't directly hit South Florida, the region could still get heavy rainfall, tornadoes, strong winds and higher than normal tides, he said. He added that by Saturday, experts should have a better idea of what may occur.

Meanwhile, Scott, who plans to be in Tampa Sunday, said residents should begin taking every precaution.

"It's still too early to predict where Isaac could make landfall, it could strike almost anywhere in Florida or in some of our neighboring states," Scott said. "Individuals and families, they have to be prepared. Every family has to have a plan, they need to be vigilant, they need to heed emergency warnings and instructions. Every family should be prepared to sustain themselves for up to 72 hours."

Hurricane Ready: County Emergency Plan

Meanwhile, the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee was activated to a level 2, partial activation. Scott also directed officials at the Florida Department of Emergency Management to start giving twice daily briefings to the media and general public on Isaac.

"We have dealt with hurricanes, the state is more prepared than any state in the country for hurricanes," Scott said. "I’m very comfortable that the state is prepared.”

Florida Power & Light urged residents to plan ahead for any potential power outages if the storm hits the area.

"At this time, FPL is closely monitoring the storm. We are ready to activate our emergency response plan should it be needed," said spokeswoman Marie Bertot. "We are ready. We plan for this all year long."

Bertot said the company will bring workers from out-of-state to help restore power if needed and restoration efforts will be around the clock.

As for the Republican National Convention, scheduled to begin Monday in Tampa, Scott said he's convened local, state, federal and convention officials for twice daily briefings. He said convention officials would decide whether to delay or cancel the event.

"But right now, there’s not an anticipation there will be a cancellation," Scott said at a noon press conference.

Isaac Poses Potential Problems for RNC

As of 11 p.m., Isaac had maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour as it moved west-northwest at 18 mph, located about 145 miles south-southeast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, the hurricane center said. Tropical storm force winds extend outward to 185 miles from the center.

Isaac had become a little stronger since earlier in the day, and was expected to restrengthen more while its center remains over water. It could still become a hurricane on Friday before it reaches Hispaniola, the center said.

"The nice thing would be if it turns into a nice, little rainstorm," Scott said Thursday.

Isaac was expected to move west-northwest to northwest at a slightly slower speed through Saturday, with its center expected to be near or over the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Friday. It will approach southeastern Cuba Saturday.

A hurricane watch was in effect for Haiti.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Haiti, for the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona westward to the Haiti-Dominican Republic southern border, and the north coast of the Dominican Republic from the Haiti-Dominican Republic northern border eastward to north of Isla Saona and the southeastern Bahamas. A warning was also in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantanamo.

Scott told reporters Thursday that recovery efforts in other countries will be accessed after the storm passes.

"We'll see how bad the damage is and see how we can be helpful," he said.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara, and the central Bahamas.

Tropical storm conditions are expected over portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Friday, with hurricane conditions possible over parts of Haiti.

Meanwhile, further out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Joyce formed Thursday with maximum sustained winds at 40 mph.

But it weakened to a tropical depression by Thursday night. As of 11 p.m., Joyce had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph as it moved west-northwest at 14 mph about 1,200 miles east of the Leeward Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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