Here we have the official explanation of the State of Emergency from the office of Jonathan Weinzapfel. The State of Emergency has been issued by Major Jonathan Weinzapfel and the Vanderburgh County Commissioners.
City of Evansville
One N.W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Evansville, Indiana 47708
Office of the Mayor
January 29, 2009 Contact: Audra Levy
For Immediate Release (812) 436-4969
Explanation of “State of Emergency”
(EVANSVILLE, IN) – There has been some confusion about what a “State of Emergency” means for the public and employers.
The Mayor and the Vanderburgh County Commissioners have declared that a “State of Emergency” exits in the City and County. This declaration of a State of Emergency has been prepared by the Evansville/Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Agency and sent to the State. It is the first step in the process of seeking State and Federal assistance. A local State of Emergency enables the City and County to ask the State for additional resources and assistance, like the activation of the National Guard. It is the first step in making the City and County eligible to recoup some of the costs incurred from a disaster such as damage to government structures and clean up.
If the disaster is of such a magnitude that the State would need assistance from the federal government, the Governor can ask the President to declare a “federal disaster declaration” for the state and county which would entitle us to federal assistance. Help for both residents and the government would be available at this point.
A State of Emergency is only valid for seven days and may be extended twice. However, it can be shorter than 7 days if necessary.
A State of Emergency does not prohibit travel. The City and County cannot prohibit travel under any circumstances. We can strongly suggest that drivers stay off the roads, but according to the law, we cannot issue tickets if people choose to drive anyway.
In addition to a State of Emergency, there is a system of warnings for winter weather that has been instituted by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (please see attached chart). These are the travel advisories that you have also heard issued over the past few days. A “Level 1” emergency is automatically triggered when a State of Emergency is declared. “Level 1” states that travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only. It is important to note that travel ‘may be’ restricted, which again means that the City and County cannot keep drivers off the roads.
The bottom line is that a “State of Emergency” triggers mechanisms which allow the City and County to request additional resources and recoup costs associated with this winter weather. Despite the fact that we are under a State of Emergency and a Level 1 Travel Emergency, the City and County can only strongly recommend that people travel only when necessary. It is up to employers, schools, etc. to make their own determinations as to whether to remain open.