Demfest: Some non-political news

(Lancaster) — Taking a quick break from politics to report Governor Rendell has responded to this weekend’s blizzard by declaring a “statewide disaster emergency.”  The move mobilizes portions of the PA National Guard to help with snow removal, and also speeds the pace of  state agency responses.

Here’s the full release:


Harrisburg – Governor Edward G. Rendell has declared a statewide disaster emergency to enable state, county and municipal governments to respond effectively to the snow storm that has blanketed much of the state.

The Proclamation authorizes state agencies to utilize all available resources and personnel as is deemed necessary to cope with the magnitude and severity of this emergency situation. The time consuming bid and contract procedures and formalities normally prescribed by law shall be waived for the duration of the Proclamation.

Governor Rendell issued the disaster proclamation based on the recommendation of Robert P. French, Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, in response to a request for assistance from the PA State Police.

In addition to declaring a disaster, the Governor has directed Major General Jessica L. Wright, Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania National Guard and Col. Frank Pawlowski, State Police Commissioner, to take necessary steps to ensure all critical resources and personnel are available. In addition, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs has deployed Pennsylvania National Guard troops to assist State Police in patrols and incident response.

Also, the Public Utility Commission remains in contact with various utilities and is monitoring the current situation.  Currently, more than 160,000 power outages have been reported across the state, with the majority of outages located in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Staffing at the State Emergency Operations Center, located at PEMA headquarters in Harrisburg, was enhanced yesterday to support county emergency services and to coordinate state resources in response to the severe snow storm that has affected most of the Commonwealth.

The state’s Emergency Operations Center 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 the state Departments of Transportation, General Services, State Police, Pennsylvania National Guard, Turnpike Commission, Public Utility Commission and the American Red Cross.

“Snowfall totals across Pennsylvania range from about six to as much as 30 inches,” said Governor Rendell. “I want to thank all motorists who have stayed off the roads during our ongoing clean-up operations, and urge motorists to use extreme caution and good judgment when driving.”

Individuals needing assistance should call their local city or county emergency management office in the “Blue Pages” section of the phone book or, if they have an emergency, should call 911 immediately. Never call the 911 emergency system to request or report road conditions. 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 reestablish contact.

PennDOT urges travelers to postpone any non essential travel until after the storm passes out of Pennsylvania. If travel is a necessity, people are urged to either call 511 or visit the 511 web site at http://www.511pa.com before leaving for information on interstate road conditions, weather reports and incidents. The site also has views from more than 400 cameras at locations around the state. Pennsylvania Turnpike roadway and weather condition information is available at http://www.paturnpike.com or by calling 1-866-976-8747.

French reminded citizens to prepare for emergencies before they happen by creating home and vehicle emergency kits with basic supplies. Downloadable checklists, as well as other valuable emergency preparedness information, are available online at http://www.ReadyPA.org.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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