Gov. Inslee Declares State of Emergency for 9 Counties; Grays Harbor Leads List

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Put down the shovel and snorkel for a minute. Washington State’s illustrious guv, Jay Inslee, declared a State of Emergency covering nine counties yesterday.  Grays Harbor leads the list of counties adversely effected by record rainfall “from multiple storms.” Counties named in the declaration appear in alpha order. They are: Grays Harbor, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Wahkiakum, and Whatcom.

The proclamation cites a combination of “extreme rainfall,”  “above normal temperatures” and soil saturation that resulted in significant storm damage, flooding, erosion and landslides in the effected counties. The proclamation directs the implementation of plans and procedures of the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. It also directs “State agencies and departments to utilize state resources and to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recover from the event.”

What does it mean when a governor declares a state of emergency? Basically, it means state resources are quickly freed up to aid areas hit hard by a disaster.  State resources made available to supplement local resources may include those related to preventing or alleviating damages, loss, hardship or suffering. Examples include resources needed to rescue, evacuate, shelter, and provide essential commodities like food and heating fuel. For more on what a gubernatorial State of Emergency declaration means, see: What It Means When the Governor Declares a State of Emergency.

Grays Harbor county commissioners declared a local state of emergency on Tuesday.

Here’s the link for the full text of the governor’s declaration. Or you can read it here (as gubernatorial proclamations go, this one’s actually pretty good):

PROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR
15-01
WHEREAS, from November 25 through December 12, 2014, Western Washington received record rainfall from multiple storms resulting in saturated soil and slope erosion throughout the area; and
WHEREAS, from January 4 through 6, 2015, another significant winter storm struck Western Washington, producing extreme rainfall and above normal temperatures throughout the lowlands and mountain snowpack elevations; and
WHEREAS, the heavy rainfall from this storm combined with unseasonable snowmelt compounded existing soil saturation resulted in flooding, additional slope erosion, and landslides causing extensive damage to roadways, road closures and restricted access to affected areas in Grays Harbor, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Wahkiakum, and Whatcom counties, affecting the life, health, and safety of our citizens; and
WHEREAS, the estimated cost to repair the damage to roads resulting from this storm exceeds $3,000,000, and emergency conditions continue to necessitate temporary closure of and limited access to affected roadways, requiring the approval of Washington’s Secretary of Transportation to commence work immediately to repair the affected roadways through the implementation of emergency procurement procedures to alleviate impacts to public safety; and
WHEREAS, the Washington State Department of Transportation and local jurisdictions are coordinating resources to repair the roadways, continuing to assess the damage caused by these storms, and working to implement damage repairs; and
WHEREAS, the roadway damage and its effects continue to impact the life and health of our citizens, as well as the property and transportation infrastructure of Washington State, and is a public disaster that affects life, health, property, or the public peace.
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 Grays Harbor, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit,Wahkiakum, and Whatcom 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 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 this 7th day of January , A.D., Two Thousand and Fifteen at Olympia, Washington.
By:
/s/
Jay Inslee, Governor
BY THE GOVERNOR:
/s/
Secretary of State
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