ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Twenty years after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida, the Florida National Guard is monitoring another storm that could potentially threaten the southern United States.
The Florida National Guard is beginning 24-hour operations today at its Emergency Operations Center in St. Augustine, and is tracking the movement of Tropical Storm Isaac as it makes way through the Eastern Caribbean Sea.
As of 11 a.m. on Thursday Tropical Storm Isaac was located South of Puerto Rico and the forecast cone developed by the National Hurricane Center showed Isaac possibly striking Florida as a hurricane by early next week.
The Florida National Guard is working in full partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and has a significant number of forces and capabilities in the state for an effective hurricane response. Respective task forces have been identified and if needed can mobilize their personnel to deploy to an area of operation. If requested by state emergency responders, the National Guard can perform disaster relief missions including: search-and-rescue, logistical support, security, and water distribution.
If additional support is needed the Florida National Guard can also request support from other states through an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) agreement to fill any gaps for personnel or equipment.
The storm looms at the same time the Florida National Guard has personnel supporting the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and in a statement yesterday Florida Gov. Rick Scott assured Floridians that the state government is ready in case Isaac poses a threat to the Tampa Bay area.
"Although Tropical Storm Isaac is still far from Florida's shores, we are closely tracking the potential for the storm to impact part or all of the state, including the Tampa Bay region during the Republican National Convention," Gov. Scott said in the statement. "Florida's state emergency management team and local emergency teams have been working closely with convention officials and have been planning for this event for more than a year, and the possibility of a hurricane hitting the convention has been part of that planning process.
"I am confident in our preparation, and the decision process in place to ensure the safety of both our residents and visitors during the convention," he added.
The Florida National Guard is providing storm updates and information on its Facebook site atfacebook.com/FloridaNationalGuard, its official website atfloridaguard.army.mil, and on Twitter at #FLGuardAlert.