As tropical storm Isaac heads to the Gulf of Mexico, FEMA has already started mobilizing their staff and supplies.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who briefed President Obama on tropical storm Isaac yesterday, says they've been moving supplies into the region since last week in anticipation of the storm's landfall.
"We’ve been moving supplies since earlier last week," Fugate tells Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point." "We maintain supplies, particularly in Louisiana. So, we’ve been moving stuff to get ready for the impacts...We don’t wait for a storm to get there. We’re moving now, as we briefed the President yesterday. He wants to make sure we have what we need in place before the storm hits.”
Fugate also warns coastal residents not to ignore warnings from officials or coastal evacuations.
"This is a very big storm. The storm surge is first. People need to evacuate when the evacuation orders are given. But it’s moving slow, so we would expect a lot of heavy rain, localized flooding, and also potentially extensive power outages,” Fugate says.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn explains the latest in preps for the Republican National Convention and tropical storm Isaac.
Although projections from the NationalHurricaneCenter now show Tropical Storm Isaac moving further west before making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico next week, Florida officials still are not taking any chances. In preparation for the storm, state and local officials are advising residents to stay alert and prepared, and readying the city of Tampa for the Republican National Convention, which is set to kick off on Monday.
Bryan Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management says “we’ve been in the planning process for the republican national convention for the last year-and-a-half. We’ve had a number of meetings to coordinate this process to gather law enforcement agencies from around the state to help out with that effort in Tampa. So we’ve got a good plan going into next week.”
Koon added that the Emergency Operation Center will be up for the duration of the convention “irrespective of the tropical storm and eventually hurricane Isaac.”
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on Rep. Todd Akin's controversial rape comments and how they will affect the GOP.
Sen. Hutchison also talks about how her state is handling an uptick in the West Nile virus, and the possibility of Tropical Storm Isaac heading their way.
Tropical storm Isaac is expected to become a category 1 hurricane before reaching the Dominican Republic and Haiti Friday. The long-term track of the system, which remains unchanged, predicts the storm crossing Cuba on Saturday and threatening southern Florida overnight Sunday into Monday during the start of the Republican National Convention. While Florida residents are preparing for the storm, there is additional concern for the 50,000 extra people expected to travel to the Convention Center located in Evacuation Zone A.
FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, who once ran Florida’s Division of Emergency Management says “the state used their statewide hurricane exercise earlier this year to actually exercise what would happen if a hurricane threatened the RNC.” Fugate added, “Again, we're in support of secret service of the state on this. So it's pretty much, you know, we're prepared. We know what the plans are. We have our staff in place. We'll see what Isaac brings.”
Fugate says when it comes to prepapring for a hurricane, Florida is "actually ahead of the country" because of the immense tourism it receives during hurricane season. "Its part of the plans with the hotels and the convention centers to make sure" guests have the information needed to "be safe when a storm threatens," says Fugate.
Republicans this morning are not feeling threatened by Democrats or new ads from superPACs, but rather a tropical storm named Isaac. Isaac has been picking up steam in the Atlantic and could become a hurricane by Thursday, posing a potential threat to the GOP convention in Florida next week. The convention, which is expected to bring in more than $153 million for city, is located in an evacuation zone in the event of a weather event.
In addition, 50,000 people are expected to travel to Florida for RNC but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he isn’t “really worried about this one yet.”
Buckhorn tells John Berman on "Early Start" that “the good thing about living in Florida is we’re accustomed to this.”
“This is our reality every storm season. So we’ve trained for this. Inevitably it will happen at some point but we’re monitoring it, we’re watching it, we’re tracking it. I think we’re going to be ok but we’ll be prepared in the event it heads this way,” he adds.
Mayor Buckhorn went on to say that he hopes Isaac moves further away from his area but “if its doesn’t – its still going to be a great convention and I think the Republican National Committee is going to be happy.”
The last hurricane to hit Tampa was in 1946.
The average temperature across the U.S. is 77.6 degrees which is three degrees above average. The warm July helped make the last 12 months the hottest ever experienced since record keeping began in 1895. The record breaking weather is taking a toll on the country’s farmland and states along the Mississippi River are enduring one of the worst droughts to hit the United States in half a century.
CNN’s Martin Savidge tells us more from Memphis, Tennessee.
The worst drought in 50 years is taking its toll on 29 states, as well as the national economy. Nearly 1300 counties across America have officially been declared drought disaster zones, with very little rain in the forecast for the next few days.
Acorrding to the USDA, 38% of the corn crop has been rated poor or very poor, while 30% of the soybean crop has been rated poor or very poor.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning about the nation-wide drought plaguing the United States. Sec. Vilsack met with President Obama Wednesday and says the President supports passing legislation that would provide aid to American farm and ranch families.
Sec. Vilsack says, "We've got thousands and thousands of farm families and ranch families across the country who are suffering today, in 29 states. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American issue."
Temperatures are again expected to reach well into the 90s today as power crews continue to scramble to restore electricity for customers.
In Maryland alone, more than two hundred thousand people are without power as clean-up crews continue a major effort to clear storm debris from streets.
On Starting Point this morning, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake discusses the biggest concerns she has about the heat wave and explains the progress that's been made in the state toward restoring power.
Tropical storm Debby continues to hit Florida today and is creeping slowly towards the coast. There has been severe flooding, widespread power outages and reports of tornadoes as the storm pummeled the coast over the weekend.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a statewide emergency yesterday and tells Soledad O'Brien on CNN's “Starting Point” that forecasters explain the rain from the storm to continue for the next two to three days.
“We’re working hard at this making sure Floridians are prepared, making sure they’re very cautious when they’re going outside,” Scott says.
Watch more from Soledad's interview with Gov. Scott on CNN's “Starting Point” in the clip above.