RI state of emergency declared 9 times in 20 years

WPRI/Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Rhode Island governor has declared a state of emergency nine times in the last two decades, with five of the occurrences happening just since 2010, according to records from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said she made the decision to declare a state of emergency Monday morning and signed the executive order following an afternoon press conference.

The declaration marks Rhode Island’s first state of emergency since the February 2013 snowstorm dubbed “Nemo.”

That was the third state of emergency declaration made by former Gov. Lincoln Chafee; he also signed executive orders for Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

In March 2010, then-Gov. Don Carcieri declared a state of emergency du to severe flooding that crippled much of the state.

Courtesy: RI Governor's Office
Courtesy: RI Governor’s Office

Prior to that, he used the executive order to tap into federal funding when the state sheltered those displaced from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Raimondo said the declaration helps coordinate efforts statewide.

“Practically speaking that means we have the ability to activate the National Guard, we have the ability to access federal funding and we have the ability to have a better coordination throughout state government,” she said.

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation sent a letter to President Obama on Monday asking for federal assistance and to declare the state a disaster area if the blizzard causes significant damage.

“Given the severity of this storm and how quickly it has developed, states and local agencies may need additional resources in order to effectively respond,” the letter said. “With that in mind, we urge you to act quickly, as you have in the past, to approve any request for an emergency or a disaster declaration that is made by the State of Rhode Island.”

The R.I. Department of Transportation was reimbursed just over $1 million for clean-up related to Nemo.

Snow storms in 2005 and 2003, as well as a major water main break in 1996, also led to emergency declarations.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @white_tim

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