Understanding why a state of emergency gets issued


POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Many people often think being in a State of Emergency means they can’t drive or go to work. But the actual meaning has almost no effect on the average resident of the commonwealth..

By definition, a State of Emergency is a situation of national danger or disaster in which a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control. But many people have adopted their own meaning for the declaration. And some people have absolutely no clue what it really means.

“Are we in a state of emergency currently? Oh we are?! I have no clue what that really means,” said Dominico Mercuri, lives and works in Pottsville.

Governor Tom Wolf issued a State of Emergency Tuesday evening.

“I am announcing a State of Emergency through our existing disaster declaration. We are working with state agency partners to make sure county emergency management coordinators have quick and unfettered access to state resources as they’re needed,” tweeted Wolf.

Some people think it’s a freebie for a day off.

“It means I should stay home from work?”

The short answer is – no. Being in a state of emergency does not mean the roads are closed. It does not mean you can’t drive.

Simply, it allows local, county and state leaders to handle a situation immediately. Avoiding the red tape, agencies can use resources like money, crews and outside contractors, without the normal bid process.

“It can be a financial burden,” said Tom Palamar.

Pottsville City Administrator, Tom Palamar, says regardless of the amount of snow, each snow storm costs the city at least five-thousand dollars. That’s man power, wear and tear on vehicles and material that’s put down.

By declaring a State of Emergency, the governor opens the door to later go to the White House and FEMA and ask for a formal disaster declaration. If that declaration is given, it allows municipalites to apply for federal funds to help pay for the costs associated with the storm.

“It’s certainly nice if we can recoup some of those costs,” said Palamar.

Many of our local municipalites are also under a “snow emergency.” In Pottsville, it’s in effect until 9 p.m. Wednesday.  A snow emergency has to do with keeping roadways clear — meaning no parking on certian streets so that plows can do their job.

Even though a State of Emergency does not prohibit you from driving, it doesn’t mean you should. Some travel bans have been issued for insterates in our area.

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