ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. -- As workers scurried around the Tradewinds resort, sandbagging buildings and removing cabanas from the beach, California convention attendees were nonchalant Sunday about the tropical storm that is hurtling toward the Gulf of Mexico and is likely to bring torrents of rain and screeching winds to the barrier island that is their home base for the next several days.
“It makes it exciting. We like weather because we don’t get weather,” said Jeanne Miles, a Monrovia retiree who received a guest pass to the convention as a member of the California Federation of Republican Women. “I’m going to stay in my room and watch Fox News and go on Facebook. I’m glad to get a day of not doing anything."
She added that she was surrounded by hundreds of like-minded Republicans who are all in the same situation.
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“You just need a few Republicans in a group and you have someone to talk to,” said the 65-year-old, as she ate eggs and potatoes at the oceanfront Bermudas Restaurant.
The Tradewinds Island Grand Resort is housing the California delegation, which includes 172 delegates, 169 alternate delegates and hundreds of guests, elected officials and volunteers. The beachfront resort is susceptible to flooding and sits on a barrier island that is connected to the rest of the state by low-lying causeways that may be closed depending on rainfall amounts and the surge. On Sunday, the weather was overcast with gusty winds and rain, and few people ventured into the warm gulf waters a few yards away, or the resort’s multiple swimming pools.
Miles said the media was over-hyping the storm, and that she was looking forward to the three remaining days of convention speakers, notably former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“They’re the rock stars,” she said. “They’re fabulous, they’re smart and they’re right.”
Others noted that they are taking precautions that they would take for any other possible natural disaster – stocking up on water, snacks and batteries for flashlights, and following weather reports.
“I can’t think of a better group to be around. Self-reliance is our byword,” said Becky Kolberg, 64, of San Ramon.
She along with several others said that while they are grateful that the Tampa area will likely avoid major damage, they are keeping their thoughts on the communities where the potential hurricane does make landfall.
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“I’m feeling very fortunate that we’re not going to take a direct hit,” said Pete Constant, 48, an alternate delegate and city councilman from San Jose. “I’ll have a nice view from the seventhfloor. I don’t have to worry about flooding.”
Constant has promised his kids he would shoot video of the storm for them, but, pointing at the wide sandy beach, he added, “I won’t be out there.”
He and others decried any second-guessing of the RNC for picking Tampa as the convention site, noting that many regions of the nation are vulnerable to various natural disasters.
“We come from earthquake country,” Constant said. “At least here you get a little warning.”
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