Governor Tom Corbett declares state disaster emergency

Tom Corbett

Governor Tom Corbett today declared a statewide disaster emergency to enable state, county and municipal governments to respond effectively to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

The storm, which will likely begin to impact the state on Sunday evening, is expected to bring heavy rain to much of the state, and even snow in some areas of southwestern Pennsylvania and in higher elevations. Flooding and power outages are also anticipated, and could last for several days. Sustained high winds will likely contribute to damage across the state as well.

The proclamation authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation.

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Corbett issued the disaster proclamation based on the recommendation of Glenn Cannon, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and forecasts from the National Weather Service.

Staff at the state’s Emergency Operations Center, located at PEMA headquarters in Harrisburg, has been monitoring conditions statewide to assess conditions and coordinate any response necessary to support county and local officials in the affected areas. PEMA remains in communication with multiple state agencies, including the state departments of Transportation, Health, Public Welfare, General Services, State Police, Pennsylvania National Guard, Turnpike Commission, Public Utility Commission and the American Red Cross.

Individuals needing assistance should call their local municipal emergency management office in the “Blue Pages” section of the phone book or, if they have an emergency, should call 911 immediately. When calling 911 to report an emergency, it is critical for callers to stay on the line, even if for an extended series of rings, until the operator answers. Hang-ups due to frustration result in wasted staff time as the 911 center tries to re-establish contact.

Never call 911 to request or report road conditions.

Motorists can check road conditions on nearly 3,000 miles of state roads by visiting www.511PA.com or by calling 511. The call is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras. Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA website.

It is important to note that the governor’s declaration does not include travel restrictions.

The state’s ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: be informed, be prepared, be involved. More detailed information, including emergency kit checklists for the home and car, and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org or by calling 1-888-9-READY-PA.