Florida braces for Isaac

(CBS News) KEY WEST, Fla. - Tropical Storm Isaac is powering up as it eyes Florida. Right now, the storm is swirling over Cuba with winds up to 60 mph. On Saturday, Florida's governor declared an emergency as Isaac approaches and the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday and recess until Tuesday afternoon.

Here in Key West, there has not been a mandatory evacuation notice. But with Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down, and a hurricane warning in effect, visitors are now being advised to leave.

Mark Williams has survived many hurricanes in his 25 years in the Florida Keys. But Isaac will be his first in an emergency shelter.

"It could go one way or the other," said Williams. "It could stay over the Gulf too long and become a bigger storm. And then 'Here we go, another few days at the shelter.'" He acknowledged he would stay as long as it takes to ride it out.

Watch WFOR chief meterologist David Bernard for the latest forecast of this powerful storm that could turn into a hurricane:

Shelters are opening on the islands for those who can't leave, while at the Key West airport, several airlines have added extra flights out for those who can.

"Yesterday we really got concerned, so we actually came here and changed the flight," said one commuter.

Issac is expected to pass over the Keys and move up the northern part of the state. Gov. Rick Scott, has already declared a state of emergency.

RNC to skip 1st day of convention due to Isaac

"We now have the risk of the hurricane in the Keys and also in the Panhandle," said Scott. "My job is to focus on all 19 million Floridians and the residents, plus all the visitors of our state."

In Tampa, where preparations are underway for the upcoming Republican National Convention, the city is handing out sandbags to combat the risk of potential flooding.

The port also plans to close due to Isaac's threat, but officials at the convention center say they are ready for the delegates and the storm."The governor has assured us they've got stuff," said one woman.

Isaac's center made landfall just before noon on the far eastern portion of Cuba, taking out trees, downing power lines, and causing flooding in the city of Baracoa.

At least three people were reported dead in Haiti, and others, still living in tent cities after the 2010 earthquake, had their makeshift homes destroyed by high winds.

"Most of the tents here have been destroyed, we have no place to go and we don't know what to do," said a woman in Port-au-Prince.

This is the ninth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, with NOAA predicting a potential total of 17. The Keys could start seeing the effects of Isaac as early as dawn Sunday with tropical storm force winds of at least 39 mph.

  • Manuel Bojorquez

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter