Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a Declaration of Emergency Thursday in anticipation of this weekend, providing the governor with a number of emergency powers to ensure the safety of Connecticut residents throughout the storm.
The declaration grants Malloy the authority to:
- Order the evacuation of an effected area and take the steps necessary for the receipt and care of evacuees.
- The ability to modify or suspend any state statute, regulation, or requirement, such as altering work hours or waving licensing requirements.
- The authority to order civil preparedness forces into action.
- And the authority to designate vehicle and person routes and movements.
“The forecast path of Hurricane Irene has convinced me that the signing of this declaration is necessary, and will help us react more quickly and effectively in the event of a serious weather event,” Malloy said in a statement shortly after issuing the declaration late Thursday afternoon. “I will continue to work with state and local officials and authorities to ensure that our state is as prepared as possible for Hurricane Irene, and can react as efficiently as possible on behalf of our residents.”
In addition, Malloy announced that he would close all 14 of the state’s campgrounds by 12 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Campers who have booked reservations at those sites through the weekend will be eligible to receive full refunds for the nights they will not be able to use those reservations. Information on how to obtain a refund can be found at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Camping Web site or directly through the ReserveAmerica Web site.
“Although I recognize the inconvenience of having to pack up and leave earlier than planned or having to cancel a day at the parks with family, it is imperative that all of our state residents and visitors be in a secure, safe location until this storm passes,” Malloy said. “I urge everyone to monitor weather conditions and be prepared for all contingencies.”
Malloy said that the predictions about the storm that Connecticut have received thus far forecast Irene will hit the state sometime Saturday afternoon and continue through Sunday, dropping as much as 10 inches of rain on parts of Connecticut, with as much as six to seven of those inches falling over a short period of time. He said residents who live in low-lying areas of the state should be prepared for flooding and possible evacuations.
“If I lived in a low-lying area that has ever been evacuated before, I would certainly assume that at some point we would issue an order of evacuation,” Malloy told reporters at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford “…We’ll watch, we’ll track, we certainly don’t want to disrupt anything that we don’t have to, but we are prepared to move quickly and early should the predictions that we’re currently operating under arise.”
Malloy said he would next brief the media on Hurricane Irene and Connecticut’s preparedness for the storm at noon Friday, but that all officers of the Connecticut State Police had been placed on standby to respond to the storm over the weekend and that his office was treating the pending storm as an “all hands on deck” situation unless current forecasts are revised.