Gov. Jay Inslee late yesterday proclaimed a state of emergency for 28 counties recovering from the impacts of recent severe winter weather.
The proclamation covers Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Cowlitz, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom and Whitman counties.
“The colder, wetter and stormier weather this winter has heavily impacted many communities throughout the state,” Inslee said. “The impacts have been significant, from snow removal and damage to public facilities to transportation interruptions and the opening of shelters to assist those whose power was out or their homes damaged. Staff from appropriate state agencies are working with local officials to quantify the impacts and damages so we can determine whether to request federal assistance.”
In his proclamation, Inslee notes that multiple winter storms from January 30 through February 22 produced high winds, heavy snowfall, ice accumulation and significant rainfall. The storms caused significant power outages, major damage to roads and public utilities, delays and cancellations within the state ferry system and at major airports, and damage to homes and businesses.
Additionally, the storms created the need for some communities to provide shelter for impacted individuals and families, and threatened the health and safety of fragile and at-risk individuals such as those with special medical needs.
The proclamation will help the Washington State Department of Transportation make emergency repairs to the state’s roadways and request federal financial assistance for them. Damage to roads is estimated at more than $10 million.
The proclamation also allows the governor to potentially request other federal assistance, pending the outcome of ongoing damage assessments in the impacted counties.
Inslee has also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a 30-day extension to April 23 to complete damage assessments. The request was made in writing to FEMA Associate Administrator Lisa Lopez-Suarez. States have 30 days after the end of an incident (February 22) to conduct damage assessments and to request disaster assistance. The most recent winter weather has slowed this effort.
Staff at the State Emergency Operations Center at the Washington Military Department’s Camp Murray have been monitoring local efforts and coordinating resources to help local officials respond. In addition, staff from the department’s Emergency Management Division are working with local officials on damage assessments.
PROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR
WHEREAS, from January 30, 2017 through February 22, 2017, a series of severe winter storms struck Washington State, producing high winds, heavy snowfall, ice accumulation, and extreme rainfall resulting in major flooding, saturated soils, landslides, stream bank and slope erosion, fallen tree limbs, broken and uprooted trees, and flying debris; and
WHEREAS, throughout the State, these storms caused injuries, significant power outages, evacuations, road damage, temporary road closures and detours, rail line closures, ferry system and airline cancellations, and extensive damage to homes, businesses, public utilities, public facilities, electrical power systems, infrastructure, and property, in addition to creating sheltering needs for impacted individuals, threatening fragile and at-risk populations, and jeopardizing the health and safety of people with special medical needs; and
WHEREAS, damage to roadways, estimated at greater than $10 million, caused by the storms resulted in temporary road closures limiting access to and complicating the provision of response and recovery efforts by emergency responders, businesses, and utilities to address the aftermath of these storms, requiring Washington’s Secretary of Transportation to commence work immediately to repair affected roadways through the implementation of emergency procurement procedures to alleviate impacts to public safety; and
WHEREAS, state agencies and local jurisdictions are coordinating resources to address damaged and blocked roadways, assess damage caused by the storms, and implement damage repairs; and
WHEREAS, the storm damage and its effects continue to impact the life and health of the people as well as the property and infrastructure of Washington State, all of which is a public disaster that affects life, health, property, or the public peace; and
WHEREAS, the Washington State Military Department monitored and coordinated supporting actions through the State Emergency Operations Center, implemented emergency response procedures, and is coordinating resources to support local officials in alleviating the immediate social and economic impacts to people, property, and infrastructure, and is continuing to assess the magnitude of the event.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jay R. Inslee, Governor of the state of Washington, as a result of the above-noted situation and under Chapters 38.52 and 43.06 RCW, do hereby proclaim that a State of Emergency exists in Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Cowlitz, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Whitman counties in the state of Washington, and direct the plans and procedures in the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan be implemented. State agencies and departments are directed to utilize state resources in accordance with the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recover from the event.
Signed and sealed with the official seal of the state of Washington on this 14th day of March A.D., Two Thousand and Seventeen at Olympia, Washington.