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Virginia Governor declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in Virginia ahead of Hurricane Irma.

While the current hurricane track keeps Irma away from Central Virginia, the order is designed “to help Virginia mitigate any damage caused by the storm and to streamline the process that the Commonwealth uses to provide assistance to other states vulnerable to Irma.”

“It is unfortunate that just as our nation has begun the process to repair the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey, that we are faced with another extreme storm,” Governor McAuliffe said. “However, if there is one lesson we can take from the tragic events that occurred in Texas, it is that we must redouble our preparation efforts. The order I issued today is intended to both protect our commonwealth and to make sure we have every option at our disposal to help our neighboring states when Irma makes landfall.”

The governor’s office urged Virginians to prepare for possible flooding, high winds, and potential storm surge. In addition, it was advised Virginians stockpile an emergency kit with food, water, medications, pet supplies, and important documents.

Click here to learn more about what to include in your emergency kit.

Click here to track Hurricane Irma using interactive radar.

The full contents of Executive Order 72 are below:

NUMBER SEVENTY TWO (2017)

DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA DUE TO HURRICANE IRMA AND IN SUPPORT OF STATES AFFECTED BY HURRICANE IRMA

    Importance of the Issue

On this date, September 7, 2017, I am declaring a state of emergency to exist for the Commonwealth of Virginia based on forecasts projecting impacts from Hurricane Irma, the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic Ocean, that could produce injuries and catastrophic damage from high winds, heavy rainfall, flooding, and damage to infrastructure causing power outages, transportation disruptions, and communications failures across the Commonwealth of Virginia. In order to prepare for Hurricane Irma, and to assist other parts of the United States impacted, I hereby authorize state preparations under the full authorities of this office.

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,
September 7, 2017, 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 Hurricane Irma, 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 and Homeland Security, 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:

A. Implementation by state agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations
Plan (COVEOP), as amended, along with other appropriate state agency plans.

B. Activation of the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) and the Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) to coordinate the provision of assistance to local governments. I am directing that the VEOC and VEST 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.

C. The evacuation of areas threatened or stricken by effects of Hurricane Irma, 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.

D. 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.

E. 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, including food, water, livestock or poultry, feed or other critical supplies for livestock or poultry, heating oil, motor fuels, or propane, or providing restoration of utilities (including but not limited to electricity, gas, phone, water, wastewater, and cable) or removal of waste to, through, and from any area of the Commonwealth in order to support the disaster response and recovery, regardless of their point of origin or destination. Weight exemptions are not valid on posted structures for restricted weight. Weight exemptions are also not valid on interstate highways unless there is an associated Federal emergency declaration.

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 vehicle 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.

F. This Emergency Declaration implements limited relief from the provisions 49 CFR 390-399. Accordingly, the State Coordinator of Emergency Management recognizes the exemption for hours of service by any carrier when transporting essential emergency relief supplies, passengers, property, livestock, poultry, equipment, food, waste, feed for livestock or poultry, fuel, construction materials, and other critical supplies to, through, 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.

G. 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.

H. The authorization of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services to grant a temporary waiver of the maximum vapor pressure prescribed in regulation 2 VAC 5-425 et seq., and to prescribe a vapor pressure limit the Commissioner deems reasonable. The temporary waiver shall remain in effect until emergency relief is no longer necessary, as determined by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

I. The implementation and discontinuance of the provisions authorized in paragraphs E through G above shall be disseminated by the 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 and disseminate this order as set forth in § 2.2-104 of the Code of Virginia.

J. This state of emergency constitutes a major medical emergency under the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Health Governing Emergency Medical Services, pursuant to Article 3.01 (§ 32.1-111.1 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 32.1, of the Code of Virginia, Statewide Emergency Medical Services System and Services, and exemptions specified in the Rules and Regulations regarding patient transport and provider certification during disasters applies.

K. The temporary waiver, for a period of 90 days, of the enforcement by the Board of Pharmacy of statutory and regulatory provisions which, in the judgment of the Director of the Department of Health Professions, impede the ability of Virginia pharmacies to provide assistance to patients who have been displaced by the effects of Hurricane Irma.

L. During this declared emergency, any person who holds a license, certificate, or other permit issued by any state, or political subdivision thereof, evidencing the meeting of qualifications for professional, mechanical, or other skills, the person, without compensation other than reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses, may render aid involving that skill in the Commonwealth during a disaster, and such person shall not be liable for negligently causing the death of, or injury to, any person or for the loss of, or damage to, the property of any person resulting from such service as set forth in Code of Virginia § 44-146.23(C).

M. 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.

N. The authorization of the Marine Resources Commissioner to act on behalf of the Commission in issuing permits pursuant to Chapter 12 of Title 28.2 of the Code of Virginia when, in the judgment of the Commissioner, it is necessary to address immediate health and safety needs and the Commissioner would be unable to convene a meeting of the full Commission in a timely manner. In an effort to address the impacts attributable to Hurricane Irma on the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth, and in an attempt to expedite the return of impacted areas and structures to pre-event conditions insofar as possible, no permits for encroachments on State-owned submerged lands, tidal wetlands and coastal primary sand dunes or beaches shall be required to replace previously permitted structures and for beach nourishment activities along public beaches.

O. The authorization of a maximum of $3,850,000 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, an amount estimated at $250,000, is 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.

P. The authorization of a maximum of $500,000 for matching funds for the Individuals and Household Program, authorized by The Stafford Act (when presidentially authorized), to be paid from state funds.

Q. 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.

R. Designation of members and personnel of volunteer, professional, 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, volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) providers, Citizen Corps Programs such as Medical Reserve Corps (MRCs), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), Office of EMS Health and Medical Emergency Response Team (HMERT) 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.

S. 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.

T. 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:

a. 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,
b. 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.

5. The following conditions apply to service by the Virginia Defense Force:

a. Virginia Defense Force personnel shall receive pay at a rate equivalent to a National Guard soldier of like rank, not to exceed 25 years of service.
b. Lodging and meals shall be provided by the Adjutant General or reimbursed at standard state per diem rates;

c. All privately owned equipment, including, but not limited to, vehicles, boats, and aircraft, will be reimbursed for the 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;

d. 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 September 7, 2017, and shall remain in full force and effect until June 30, 2018 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 7th day of September, 2017.