Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that President Obama has granted his request for a declaration of disaster emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. The President has ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local response efforts.
"I would like to thank President Obama for granting this declaration, which will help Rhode Island prepare for, sustain, and recover from Hurricane Irene," Governor Chafee said. "The President's pre-landfall declaration of emergency is yet another affirmation of the seriousness of this storm and the threat it poses to our state and region."
"I want to once again encourage Rhode Islanders to make individual preparations for themselves and their families," Governor Chafee continued. "Those in low-lying coastal areas should follow evacuation orders where they have been issued and contact local Emergency Management Agencies for the most up-to-date information. I and other state officials will continue to work with local communities and monitor the storm as it nears New England and I am confident we will get Rhode Island through Irene safely and securely."
The Declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety. Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.
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."