Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that he has signed a declaration of disaster emergency in advance of Hurricane Irene.
“I have been monitoring the path and movement of the storm closely, and there is no doubt that Rhode Island will be hit with high winds, a storm surge, and rain generated by Hurricane Irene,” Governor Chafee said. “This declaration of emergency is a proactive step in our hurricane plan to ensure that we as a state are doing all we can to get Rhode Island through this storm safely and securely. The declaration will make Rhode Island eligible for assistance and resources from the National Guard and federal government that will allow us to better prepare for and recover from the storm. Additionally, it gives me emergency powers to utilize valuable groups and resources throughout the state before, during, and after Hurricane Irene reaches Rhode Island.”
“I want to stress that this is a major storm,” Governor Chafee continued. “Individual preparation is essential. Please take the necessary steps to secure your family and property and prepare to evacuate if your municipality issues an evacuation order. I am in close contact with mayors and town managers to ensure that cities and towns have the state support they need to make the best decision for their residents.”
The declaration of disaster emergency, in addition to making Rhode Island eligible for federal funding and resources, makes certain emergency powers available to the Governor, including:
· Directing all state departments, agencies, quasi-state agencies, and boards and commissions performing an executive function to fully cooperate with RIEMA efforts and to be coordinated through RIEMA.
· Keeping all state operations continuing as usual until further notice.
· Directing law enforcement and environmental authorities to order, if necessary, the evacuation or closure of stricken or threatened areas, including but not limited to beaches and campgrounds, and to control access to and from a stricken or threatened area.
· Authorizing the Director of the Department of Environmental Management to suspend regulations governing fishery landings, if necessary.
· Activating RIEMA’s Rhode Island State Urban Search and Rescue Team and its personnel and resources, if deemed necessary, for disaster emergency response duty to assist in the response to Hurricane Irene.
· Pursuant to Rhode Island General Law Section 30-15-9, the Governor’s executive order “shall activate the state and local disaster emergency plans applicable to the political subdivision or area in question and shall be authority for the deployment and use of any forces to which the plan or plans apply and for the use or distribution of any supplies, equipment, and materials and facilities assembled, stockpiled, or arranged to be made available pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of law relating to disaster emergencies.”
The Governor’s order is in immediate effect.