Wesley Chapel, Florida (CNN) – Tropical Storm Isaac may have spared the convention halls in Tampa, but a potentially devastating path through Louisiana has delegates from the Bayou State closely monitoring the situation back home.
At a delegate breakfast outside Tampa Monday, several tables remained empty, an indication that some Louisiana Republicans were headed home to secure their property as Isaac drew closer. Those that remained for the Republican National Convention said they were praying the storm wouldn't bring the same levels of destruction that have ravaged parts of the state in the past.
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"Our thoughts and our prayers go out to people back home, but I will tell you that they're in good hands and now we'll just have to see where this storm is going and put our faith in God that we're going to all come through it fine," said Mike Strain, Louisiana's agriculture commissioner, at Monday's breakfast. "In the meantime you have a job to do. You have a job to get our next president nominated."
Strain was slated to return to Louisiana Monday afternoon after signing the appropriate paperwork handing his delegate responsibilities to an alternate.
Isaac's path mimics the route taken by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, though this year's storm is much weaker. Its arrival during the Republican National Convention also brings to mind Hurricane Gustav in 2008, a category 2 hurricane that made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana. Organizers of the 2008 GOP convention in Minneapolis scrapped the first day of their confab, saying it would be insensitive to people in the Gulf to hold the political event.
In 2012, the first day of the Tampa convention has also been cancelled, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled to speak at the Republican Convention, cancelled his appearance for the second time to lead his state during a storm.
"Four years ago we were in Minneapolis," George White, the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, said Monday. "So the people who say we shouldn't have picked Tampa for our convention because of a hurricane are so wrong because four years ago we were in Minneapolis and we were doing the same thing."
Suzanne Terrell, a Republican delegate who challenged Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2002, said the GOP convention should continue as planned, but that the weather back home was weighing heavily on the Louisiana delegation.
"I have family back home and I told them I was going to head back home, and they just said 'Stay where you are,'" Terrell said Monday.
The timing of the convention, Terrell said, seemed to make extreme weather unavoidable.
"I think maybe we need to move the convention to June, because it doesn't seem to matter where it is, Florida or Minneapolis, we're going to have a hurricane," she said with a laugh.
Adonica Duggen, who delivered an invocation at Monday's breakfast, said afterwards that going home to Louisiana wouldn't be useful, either for her family or for the GOP.
"I think it's been said by a lot of the RNC officials that it's hard to have a party when you have your citizens at home that are going through something that's a tragedy," Duggen said. "I think that for Louisiana people we know that the political part of it's important, what we're here for, but it is hard to celebrate in some ways when you have your heart in a different place."
Mike Bayham was going with a similar strategy. The GOP delegate said he was "keeping an eye on the hurricane track, getting in touch with all my family and friends that are evacuating."
"And praying. A lot of prayer," Bayham added. "As long as everybody gets out all right, that's all that matters. Everything else is just stuff. Property damage, it hurts. I lost so much with Katrina, between the oil spill and the storm, but fortunately all my relatives made it out alright. That's what matters the most."
Fighting tears, Lynn Skidmore said memories of Katrina resurface when storms like Isaac pass through New Orleans, where she lives.
"It's just that it brings back such bad memories and we don't need that, we don't need that. New Orleans doesn't need it," she said. "We have started to recover, we are well on our way to recovery, the buildings have come back and I think the people, the people of new Orleans are so strong but we don't want it again. There's nothing we can do except wait and see."
– CNN's Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.