For Immediate Release: February 16, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Emergency Management: Dawn Eischen, (804) 674-2400, dawn.eischen@vdem.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency for Winter Storm Response

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency today, an action that authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the winter storm that is sweeping across the commonwealth today through tomorrow morning and is expected to blanket many parts of the state with 3-14 inches of snow. 

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses. 

“This storm could bring difficult travel and widespread power outages for the next few days,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Please postpone travel during the storm, charge up your mobile devices so you can stay in touch and take time to check on your neighbors in case they need help.” 

To prepare for the storm: 

  • The Virginia Emergency Operations Center has additional response team members to coordinate the state’s response to the storm.
  • The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is coordinating conference calls between the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.
  • VDOT crews are out in force to treat and plow roads. Their goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after the winter storm ends. Roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared first. VDOT has adequate supplies for this storm. 
  • The Virginia National Guard is standing by to support emergency response operations as needed.
  • Virginia State Police has extended shifts and have additional troopers on patrol to expedite response times to traffic crashes and disabled motorists. 

Citizens should: 

  • Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
  • A three-day supply of food includes a gallon of water per person per day and food that does not require electricity to prepare it.
  • Have a battery powered and/or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information.  Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • Always run generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never use a portable generator in any enclosed or partially enclosed space.
  • Only travel if absolutely necessary. Roads can become very hazardous very quickly.  Always wear a seatbelt, and know road conditions before you leave. Road condition information is available 24/7 by calling 511 or going to www.511Virginia.org 
  • Have emergency supplies in your vehicle. If you are stranded you will need water, food, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries at a minimum. 
  • Avoid overexertion while shoveling snow and cleaning up from the storm, no matter your age or physical condition. Shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
  • If you need help for an elderly or disabled person during the storm, need information on warming shelters or are concerned about an unsheltered individual or family, call 211. A trained professional will suggest sources of help using one of the largest databases of health and human services in your community and statewide.
  • Get winter weather preparedness information at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and download the new Ready Virginia app for iPhones and Android devices.

Read the executive order below:

NUMBER THIRTY EIGHT (2015)

Declaration of a State of Emergency for the Commonwealth of Virginia due to Major Winter Storm

Importance of the Issue

On this date, February 16, 2015, I am declaring a state of emergency to exist for the Commonwealth of Virginia based on a National Weather Service forecast projecting a major winter storm bringing the potential for significant snow across the Commonwealth, with potential accumulations of 6-12 inches or more throughout Virginia. Snow is forecast the afternoon of Monday, February 16, 2015, following freezing temperatures overnight. This precipitation, combined with low wind chill values and potential accumulations of ice, has the potential to impact life safety and create significant transportation issues throughout the Commonwealth.

The health and general welfare of the citizens require that state action be taken to help alleviate the conditions caused by this situation. The effects of this incident constitute a disaster wherein human life and public and private property are imperiled, as described in § 44-146.16 of the Code of Virginia.

Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia, as Governor and as Director of Emergency Management, and by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article V, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia and by § 44-75.1 of the Code of Virginia, as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Commonwealth, and subject always to my continuing and ultimate authority and responsibility to act in such matters, I hereby confirm, ratify, and memorialize in writing my verbal orders issued on this date, February 16, 2015, whereby I am proclaiming that a state of emergency exists, and I am directing that appropriate assistance be rendered by agencies of both state and local governments to prepare for potential impacts of the winter storm, alleviate any conditions resulting from the incident, and to implement recovery and mitigation operations and activities so as to return impacted areas to pre-event conditions in so far as possible. Pursuant to § 44-75.1(A)(3) and (A)(4) of the Code of Virginia, I am also directing that the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force be called forth to state active duty to be prepared to assist in providing such aid. This shall include Virginia National Guard assistance to the Virginia Department of State Police to direct traffic, prevent looting, and perform such other law enforcement functions as the Superintendent of State Police, in consultation with the State Coordinator of Emergency Management, the Adjutant General, and the Secretary of Public Safety, may find necessary.

In order to marshal all public resources and appropriate preparedness, response, and recovery measures to meet this threat and recover from its effects, and in accordance with my authority contained in § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia, I hereby order the following protective and restoration measures:

    1. Implementation by state agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP), as amended, along with other appropriate state agency plans.
    2. Activation of the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) and the Virginia Emergency Response Team (VERT) to coordinate the provision of assistance to local governments. I am directing that the VEOC and VERT coordinate state actions in support of affected localities, other mission assignments to agencies designated in the COVEOP, and others that may be identified by the State Coordinator of Emergency Management, in consultation with the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, which are needed to provide for the preservation of life, protection of property, and implementation of recovery activities.
    3. The authorization to assume control over the Commonwealth’s state-operated telecommunications systems, as required by the State Coordinator of Emergency Management, in coordination with the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, and with the consultation of the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, making all systems assets available for use in providing adequate communications, intelligence, and warning capabilities for the incident, pursuant to § 44-146.18 of the Code of Virginia.
    4. The evacuation of areas threatened or stricken by effects of the winter storm as appropriate. Following a declaration of a local emergency pursuant to § 44-146.21 of the Code of Virginia, if a local governing body determines that evacuation is deemed necessary for the preservation of  life or other emergency mitigation, response, or recovery effort, pursuant to § 44-146.17(1) of the Code of Virginia, I direct the evacuation of all or part of the populace therein from such areas and upon such timetable as the local governing body, in coordination with the VEOC, acting on behalf of the State Coordinator of  Emergency Management, shall determine. Notwithstanding the foregoing, I reserve the right to direct and compel evacuation from the same and different areas and determine a different timetable both where local governing bodies have made such a determination and where local governing bodies have not made such a determination. Also, in those localities that have declared a local emergency pursuant to § 44-146.21 of the Code of Virginia, if the local governing body determines that controlling movement of persons is deemed necessary for the preservation of life, public safety, or other emergency mitigation, response, or recovery effort, pursuant to § 44-146.17(1) of the Code of Virginia, I authorize the control of ingress and egress at an emergency area, including the movement of persons within the area and the occupancy of premises therein upon such timetable as the local governing body, in coordination with the State Coordinator of Emergency Management and the VEOC, shall determine. Violations of any order to citizens to evacuate shall constitute a violation of this Executive Order and are punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
    5. The activation, implementation, and coordination of appropriate mutual aid agreements and compacts, including the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), and the authorization of the State Coordinator of Emergency Management to enter into any other supplemental agreements, pursuant to § 44-146.17(5) and § 44-146.28:1 of the Code of Virginia, to provide for the evacuation and reception of injured and other persons and the exchange of medical, fire, police, National Guard personnel and equipment, public utility, reconnaissance, welfare, transportation, and communications personnel, equipment, and supplies. The State Coordinator of Emergency Management is hereby designated as Virginia’s authorized representative within the meaning of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, § 44-146.28:1 of the Code of Virginia.
    6. The authorization of the Departments of State Police, Transportation, and Motor Vehicles to grant temporary overweight, over width, registration, or license exemptions to all carriers transporting essential emergency relief supplies, livestock or poultry, feed or other critical supplies for livestock or poultry, heating oil, motor fuels, and propane,or providing restoration of utilities (electricity, gas, phone, water, wastewater, and cable) in and through any area of the Commonwealth in order to support the disaster response and recovery, regardless of their point of origin or destination. Such exemptions shall not be valid on posted structures for restricted weight.
       
      All over width loads, up to a maximum of 12 feet, and over height loads up to a maximum of 14 feet must follow Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hauling permit and safety guidelines.
       
      In addition to described overweight/over width transportation privileges, carriers are also exempt from registration with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This includes vehicles en route and returning to their home base. The above-cited agencies shall communicate this information to all staff responsible for permit issuance and truck legalization enforcement.
       
      Authorization of the State Coordinator of Emergency Management to grant limited exemption of hours of service by any carrier when transporting essential emergency relief supplies, passengers, property, livestock, poultry, equipment, food, feed for livestock or poultry, fuel, construction materials, and other critical supplies to or from any portion of the Commonwealth for purpose of providing direct relief or assistance as a result of this disaster, pursuant to § 52-8.4 of the Code of Virginia and Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 390.23 and Section 395.3.
       
      The foregoing overweight/over width transportation privileges as well as the regulatory exemption provided by § 52-8.4(A) of the Code of Virginia, and implemented in § 19 VAC 30-20-40(B) of the "Motor Carrier Safety Regulations," shall remain in effect for 30 days from the onset of the disaster, or until emergency relief is no longer necessary, as determined by the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, whichever is earlier.
    7. The discontinuance of provisions authorized in paragraph F above may be implemented and disseminated by publication of administrative notice to all affected and interested parties. I hereby delegate to the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, after consultation with other affected Cabinet Secretaries, the authority to implement this order as set forth in § 2.2-104 of the Code of Virginia.
    8. The authorization of a maximum of $450,000 in state sum sufficient funds for state and local governments mission assignments authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management that are allowable as defined by The Stafford Act. This funding is also available for state response and recovery operations and incident documentation. Out of this state disaster sum sufficient, funding is also authorized for the Department of Military Affairs for the state’s portion of the eligible disaster related costs incurred for salaries, travel, and meals during mission assignments authorized and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
    9. The implementation by public agencies under my supervision and control of their emergency assignments as directed in the COVEOP without regard to normal procedures pertaining to performance of public work, entering into contracts, incurring of obligations or other logistical and support measures of the Emergency Services and Disaster Laws, as provided in § 44-146.28(b) of the Code of Virginia. § 44-146.24 of the Code of Virginia also applies to the disaster activities of state agencies.
    10. Designation of members and personnel of volunteer, auxiliary, and reserve groups including search and rescue (SAR), Virginia Associations of Volunteer Rescue Squads (VAVRS), Civil Air Patrol (CAP), member organizations of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES), volunteer fire fighters, Citizen Corps Programs such as Medical Reserve Corps (MRCs), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), and others identified and tasked by the State Coordinator of Emergency Management for specific disaster related mission assignments as representatives of the Commonwealth engaged in emergency services activities within the meaning of the immunity provisions of § 44-146.23(a) and (f) of the Code of Virginia, in the performance of their specific disaster-related mission assignments.
    11. The authorization of appropriate oversight boards, commissions, and agencies to ease building code restrictions and to permit emergency demolition, hazardous waste disposal, debris removal, emergency landfill sitting, and operations and other activities necessary to address immediate health and safety needs without regard to time-consuming procedures or formalities and without regard to application or permit fees or royalties.
    12. The activation of the statutory provisions in § 59.1-525 et seq. of the Code of Virginia related to price gouging. Price gouging at any time is unacceptable. Price gouging is even more reprehensible during a time of disaster after issuance of a state of emergency. I have directed all applicable executive branch agencies to take immediate action to address any verified reports of price gouging of necessary goods or services. I make the same request of the Office of the Attorney General and appropriate local officials. I further request that all appropriate executive branch agencies exercise their discretion to the extent allowed by law to address any pending deadlines or expirations affected by or attributable to this disaster event.
    13. The following conditions apply to the deployment of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force:
      1. The Adjutant General of Virginia, after consultation with the State Coordinator of Emergency Management, shall make available on state active duty such units and members of the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force and such equipment as may be necessary or desirable to assist in preparations for this incident and in alleviating the human suffering and damage to property.
      2. Pursuant to § 52-6 of the Code of Virginia, I authorize the Superintendent of the Department of State Police to appoint any and all such Virginia Army and Air National Guard personnel called to state active duty as additional police officers as deemed necessary. These police officers shall have the same powers and perform the same duties as the State Police officers appointed by the Superintendent. However, they shall nevertheless remain members of the Virginia National Guard, subject to military command as members of the State Militia. Any bonds and/or insurance required by § 52-7 of the Code of Virginia shall be provided for them at the expense of the Commonwealth.
      3. In all instances, members of the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force shall remain subject to military command as prescribed by § 44-78.1 of the Code of Virginia and are not subject to the civilian authorities of county or municipal governments. This shall not be deemed to prohibit working in close cooperation with members of the Virginia Departments of State Police or Emergency Management or local law enforcement or emergency management authorities or receiving guidance from them in the performance of their duties.
      4. Should service under this Executive Order result in the injury or death of any member of the Virginia National Guard, the following will be provided to the member and the member’s dependents or survivors:
        1. Workers’ Compensation benefits provided to members of the National Guard by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, subject to the requirements and limitations thereof; and, in addition,
        2. The same benefits, or their equivalent, for injury, disability, and/or death, as would be provided by the federal government if the member were serving on federal active duty at the time of the injury or death. Any such federal-type benefits due to a member and his or her dependents or survivors during any calendar month shall be reduced by any payments due under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act during the same month. If and when the time period for payment of Workers’ Compensation benefits has elapsed, the member and his or her dependents or survivors shall thereafter receive full federal-type benefits for as long as they would have received such benefits if the member had been serving on federal active duty at the time of injury or death. Any federal-type benefits due shall be computed on the basis of military pay grade E-5 or the member’s military grade at the time of injury or death, whichever produces the greater benefit amount. Pursuant to § 44-14 of the Code of Virginia, and subject to the availability of future appropriations which may be lawfully applied to this purpose, I now approve of future expenditures out of appropriations to the Department of Military Affairs for such federal-type benefits as being manifestly for the benefit of the military service.
        1. The following conditions apply to service by the Virginia Defense Force:
          1. Compensation shall be at a daily rate that is equivalent of base pay only for a National Guard Unit Training Assembly, commensurate with the grade and years of service of the member, not to exceed 20 years of service;
          2. Lodging and meals shall be provided by the Adjutant General or reimbursed at standard state per diem rates;
          3. All privately owned equipment, including, but not limited to, vehicles, boats, and aircraft, will be reimbursed for expense of fuel. Damage or loss of said equipment will be reimbursed, minus reimbursement from personal insurance, if said equipment was authorized for use by the Adjutant General in accordance  with § 44-54.12 of the Code of Virginia;
          4. In the event of death or injury, benefits shall be provided in accordance with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, subject to the requirements and limitations thereof.

Upon my approval, the costs incurred by state agencies and other agents in performing mission assignments through the VEOC of the Commonwealth as defined herein and in § 44-146.28 of the Code of Virginia, other than costs defined in the paragraphs above pertaining to the Virginia National Guard and pertaining to the Virginia Defense Force, in performing these missions shall be paid from state funds.

Effective Date of this Executive Order

This Executive Order shall be effective February 16, 2015, and shall remain in full force and effect until April 15, 2015, unless sooner amended or rescinded by further executive order. Termination of the Executive Order is not intended to terminate any federal-type benefits granted or to be granted due to injury or death as a result of service under this Executive Order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this 16th day of February, 2015.

 

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