Governor John Lynch this afternoon declared a state of emergency for New Hampshire in an effort to ensure all state and federal resources are made available as the state prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Irene. It is expected the storm will begin impacting the state with heavy rains and high winds Saturday evening and throughout the day Sunday.
"It is clear the entire state will be impacted by a significant weather event this weekend, and it is important that the state has all its resources available to manage this situation," Governor Lynch said. "I urge all New Hampshire citizens to take sensible precautions and heed all warnings from public officials."
The Governor today also asked President Obama to declare a pre-landfall emergency disaster declaration for the State of New Hampshire. A federal emergency declaration is necessary to provide federal support to the state during the storm.
In preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, Governor Lynch has been in close coordination with federal, state and local emergency management officials, and state agency leaders.
The National Guard is on state active duty and is ready to provide assistance as needed.
The Department of Resources and Economic Development on Friday announced the closure of all State Parks - including all beaches on the Seacoast - State Forests and Trails effective 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27. The Parks will reopen Tuesday, Aug. 30, subject to any damage and debris removal needed in the aftermath of the storm.
The Department of Transportation has canceled all weekend road construction work, removed barriers to open travel lanes and has been engaged in removing debris from storm drains and catch basins.
Local and regional sheltering operations are underway in coordination with the Red Cross, with several regional ready to open depending on need.
Over the last several days, the Department of Environmental Services has been managing water flow through state run dams and working with private dam owners to lower dam levels in an effort to prevent flooding.
State emergency management officials recommended the following hurricane precautions be taken by all New Hampshire residents and visitors:
* The public should monitor weather information from the National Weather Service, radio and TV broadcasts and Internet sources for information regarding the severity of winds and rains produced by the storm.
* Loose objects in your yard, such as toys and lawn furniture, should be secured.
* As with all major natural events, ensure there is three days supply of water, non-perishable food and other supplies in your home.
* Prepare for power outages by ensuring working flashlights and fresh batteries, and a battery-powered radio. If you have a generator, ensure that it is professionally installed and can be operated without causing a health hazard. Please report outages to your electric utility.
* Prior to the storm's arrival, make sure all storm drains and culverts are clear of debris.
* Stay off the roads during the storm on Sunday.
* Follow the direction of your local emergency officials.
The Governor's letter to the President is below:
August 26, 2011
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D. C. 20500
Don R. Boyce
FEMA Region I
99 High Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Re: Request for Pre-Landfall Emergency Disaster Declaration
Dear Mr. President:
Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for each of the ten counties in the State of New Hampshire, which are threatened by the approach of Hurricane Irene.
The National Weather Service projects that this storm will impact the entire State on or about Sunday, August 28, 2011, with hurricane or tropical storm force winds and significant rainfall, as cited in the National Weather Service Forecast issued today at 10:53 am from its Gray, Maine station. In response to the situation, I have taken appropriate action under State law and today directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act.
In accordance with FEMA Disaster Assistance Policy 1001, and based on the latest information from the National Weather Service regarding the potential track of Hurricane Irene, I have today declared a State of Emergency for all ten counties in the State of New Hampshire: Coos, Grafton, Carroll, Sullivan, Belknap, Strafford, Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack, and Cheshire.
The federal emergency declaration is necessary to provide operational federal support (Incident Management Support Team (IMAT), Disaster Initiated Review Team (DIRT), US Corps of Engineer Dam Safety Inspectors, equipment, and supplies) to meet critical emergency protection requirements before landfall of Hurricane Irene that could exceed the capacity of State resources.
Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, I have determined that this hurricane will result in a situation of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting Public Assistance, Category B, including DFA for the counties of Coos, Carroll, Grafton, Sullivan, Belknap, Strafford, Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Cheshire for the incident period beginning August 26, 2011 and continuing.
The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of Federal, State and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency:
The State's emergency operations center was activated on Thursday August 25, and the state has begun regular communication with local partners. State parks and beaches have been ordered closed beginning Saturday evening; the New Hampshire National Guard is on stand-by to provide assistance with all areas of response. The Department of Transportation is involved in pre-storm staging, canceling weekend construction work, removing barriers to open travel lanes and activating chain saw crews. Local and regional sheltering operations are under way, in coordination with the Red Cross. The Department of Environmental Services Dam Bureau is managing water flows through state run dams in anticipation of major rainfall and flooding. The Department of Safety, State Police, have implemented contingency plans for traffic management, given the likelihood of road closures and downed power lines.
I certify that for this emergency, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.
I request direct Federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property.
(a) State and local government cannot perform or contract for the services and technical advice identified in paragraph (b) below.
(b) I am requesting the deployment of an IMAT to the State EOC, activating a DIRT to assess any potential damages that may occur to the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station, and alerting US Army Corps of Engineers Dam Safety Inspectors, and Power Restoration Teams to assess high hazard dams and evaluate temporary power restoration needs.
In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety. The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated based on current hurricane model that Irene may generate over 1 million yards of debris.
In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of New Hampshire agrees that it will, with respect to direct Federal assistance:
1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easement, and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work.
2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;
3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
4. Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.
Please note that within the past five years the State of New Hampshire has had a total of eight federally declared disasters, with three still active.
I have designated Michael Poirier as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.
John H. Lynch