Tropical Storms, and Delegates, and Protestors….. Oh Myyyy!


The 40th Republican National Convention was held in Tampa, Florida from August 27th – 30th, and ACP’s Steve Elliot had a unique ring-side seat for this event.

Elliot, ACP’s Corporate Director of Membership and Programming, helped staff the City of Tampa’s Emergency Operations Center as the City’s Business & Industry Liaison at the ESF-18 Private Sector desk.

“Even though the City had worked with the County, State, and Federal officials for almost two years in preparation for the convention, it still came as a bit of a shock when we saw Tropical Storm Isaac make the turn up into the Gulf of Mexico just days before the convention was to start,” said Elliot. “We had certainly considered the possibility of a storm hitting Tampa during the convention – after all, this is August in Florida – but there is always a difference between a drill and a real-life experience.”

“The City of Tampa’s Emergency Coordinator, Chauncia Willis, called all of us into the EOC on Friday night / Saturday morning to formally activate the center and start the storm watch procedures. The weekend of August 25th and 26th zipped by quickly as we received frequent meteorological updates, and funneled the information out to our private sector partners. The area school systems opted to close on Monday, August 27th, and many area businesses followed suit.”

The original projections for the 2012 RNC included about 5,000 delegates from all 50 states, about 15,000 media from all over the globe, another 10 – 15,000 visitors, and as many as 10,000 protestors. “Most of these people had never experienced tropical weather, and so our concern was keeping everyone safe and secure during an emotionally-charged political convention.”

The threat of the storm had a major impact on the attendance of both the delegates and the protestors. Many delegates along the Gulf Coast region chose to stay close to their home bases as the storm drifted and wobbled its way towards the eventual point of landfall in Mississippi and then Louisiana. The protestors had chartered motor coaches to bring them to Tampa, and several tour operators chose to cancel the contracts and avoid the storm rather than risk damage to their buses.

Monday morning, August 27th, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus banged the gavel to convene the 2012 Republican National Convention, and then immediately declared the convention would be in recess until the following day due to the storm. We were all hunkered down, watching Isaac’s track through the Gulf and very thankful that Tampa had been spared a direct strike.

By Tuesday morning, the rain bands had passed, and the convention was back underway. The protestors emerged from their tents to gather up their signs and their bullhorns and start their marches down the city streets.

“During the next three days I fielded numerous calls from area businesses, and disseminated information between Tampa Police, Fire, Code Enforcement, Transportation, Coast Guard, Tampa Electric, and the private sector as various events unfolded around the city. We did everything in our power to keep everyone informed and share our resources during the convention. We watched the various marches, and breathed a big sigh of relief on Friday morning as everyone packed up and left Tampa.”

“At the end of the convention, I’m now able to look back and realize that only TWO people were arrested during the RNC for convention-related offenses. The City of Tampa suffered no damage – unlike other cities such as Minneapolis, Seattle, and Chicago. Our proactive strategy worked, and we kept everyone in the business community informed during the convention. It was a major Win – Win for Tampa!”


1 comment so far

  1. mobilitycloud on

    Reblogged this on mobilitycloud and commented:
    Steve Elliott wih Elliott Consulting, talks about his stint working behind the scenes at the City of Tampa’s Emergency Operations Center for last week’s Rebublican National Cenvention.

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