As a resident of the beautiful Tampa Bay area, I would like to formally apologize to the organizers of the 2012 Republican National Convention for what may have been a slight misunderstanding regarding the predictability of our summer weather.
As I write this, our latest slider off the African continent, Tropical Storm Isaac, is gathering itself into hurricane strength on a path that could up the Gulf Coast to Tampa just in time for the GOP's big show.
As Jimmy Buffett (I-Margaritaville) once observed, there's no point in trying to reason with hurricane season. Computer "spaghetti" models of every approaching storm's probable path most often resemble free-draw hour at a preschool. As Wall Street likes to say, past performance is no guarantee of future -- well, in this case -- landfalls.
Hurricane coverage is a key and costly component of homeowners insurance in these parts and growing more costly every year, for good reason.
As the risk modeling company Karen Clark & Co. reported last week, Hurricane Andrew, which rearranged much of the Miami area 20 years ago this week, would cost $50 billion if it hit today, three times what it actually cost in 1992. In fact, of the 180 hurricanes that have made U.S. landfall since 1900, 28 would cause damage in excess of $10 billion today, due to the greater number and cost of structures in their way.
Living down here, we know the drill: monitor the storm's path, batten down the hurricane kit (flashlights, batteries, radio, nonperishable food, knife, can opener, first aid kit, important documents, etc.), haul out the storm shutters, tie down anything prone to become airborne, and keep the vehicle gassed should we be forced to evacuate. Plus, check your homeowners insurance.
I hope Isaac breaks apart (they do that, too, around here) because we'd love to share our beach culture, wonderful museums, fabulous seafood and Joe Maddon's Rays with y'all. We really want the convention to come off without a hitch.
But as excited as the Sun Coast has been to host the RNC -- one local official termed it Tampa's "coming-out party" -- no one in the position to approve or cancel the convention will be willing to endanger human life for the sake of merely avoiding inconvenience.
Because down this way, Mother Nature always bats last.
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