An event planner must anticipate every detail, solve every issue and make sure all goes according to plan. Sometimes events take well over a year of planning, organizing and pulling together all the elements needed. Yet no matter how good you are, there is always one thing you can not control… the weather! And though planners are banking on years of data that a major storm won’t hit, they also have laid out worse-case scenarios that include canceling if it’s clear the 70,000 expected delegates, officials, journalists and protesters would be in harm’s way.
The National Weather Service will have an emergency operation center as an important part of the behind the scenes production for the convention. The Tampa Bay Times Forum, the convention’s home, is in an area that would be required to evacuate if winds exceeded 96 mph.
In May, Florida officials held a four-day mock hurricane drill. Officials laid out a worst-case scenario for the emergency planners: what if a Category 3 storm struck Tampa on the second day of the RNC? Under that scenario, state leaders canceled the convention. RNC organizers acknowledge the possibility of a storm but won’t talk about evacuation plans for security reasons.
The almost certain issue for planners is the heat.The Health Department plans to include flyers warning about the heat in each delegate’s welcome package. Other brochures and cards will be handed out to others on the streets, urging people to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen with a high SPF and to seek shade if possible.
Officials are a bit more worried about the journalists and protesters who will be outdoors; most of the delegates will be inside the event hall or shuttled to and from parties, meetings and hotels in air-conditioned vans.The city will offer at least two “cooling stations” for people outside of the air-conditioned convention sites. The stations will have misters, fans, water and shade. Area hospitals have agreed to take patients so as not to overwhelm any one facility. It’s all part of the plan.