If you heard explosions, gunfire and low flying aircraft this afternoon in Downtown Tampa, fret not: The end is not near. As part of a special operations conference and trade show at the Tampa Convention Center, drills were conducted in Tampa as a test response to terrorism. In this scenario, mayor Bob Buckhorn was kidnapped.
Test operations actually began on Tuesday near Tampa General Hospital with forces taking out a mock enemy outpost. Land, sea, and air were active with multiple crafts from a Chinook helicopter to ground-mobility vehicles to rigid-hull inflatable boats like those used by Navy SEALs.
Earlier today, loud explosions and gunfire, with blank ammo, could be heard in downtown Tampa, but all was contained by the police. Spectators were encouraged to watch from designated viewing areas along the water near the convention center.
In addition to preparing for terrorist attacks, hurricane readiness drills will also be carried out, focusing on a hurricane hitting Tampa during high visitor seasons.
The drill is being staged by the Florida Division of Emergency Management and includes evacuating tens of thousands of people from downtown Tampa as a fake hurricane heads that way. The public is not directly involved and the drill is mostly for internal tweaking, so keep your cool if you see what looks like crowds of people panicking downtown later this week.