Governor Jack Markell announced that the State of Emergency continues to be in effect until further notice. While travel restrictions for operating motor vehicles on the roads of Delaware will be lifted beginning at noon today for New Castle County, the Governor strongly urged drivers to continue to stay off the roads whenever possible. Emergency responders and local law enforcement asked that the ban remain in Kent and Sussex County.
“The restriction is lifted to allow critical travel and because travel on major roads is becoming somewhat easier,” Gov. Markell said. “A lack of a ban does not mean the roads are fully clear. If you go out, know you might get stuck.”
The travel modification is intended to allow critical commercial activities and travel on major routes as they become passable. However, motorists are still strongly advised to stay off the roads. In some areas, local restrictions remain in place. Private sector businesses are urged to consider the safety of employees when deciding when to resume operations.
“This is not an encouragement to go out and drive,” Markell said. “Motorists who ventured out were getting stuck and needed to be rescued. These rescues consume critical time and resources that could be dedicated to clearing the roads.”
Due to the intensity and duration of the snowfall, as well as high winds, snowplowing activities have been limited to major highway routes. Secondary routes remain icy and snow covered. There were over 200 additional reports of disabled vehicles across the state last night. Abandoned vehicles remain a significant challenge for emergency personnel. Such vehicles, some of which are blocking routes to healthcare centers, are being towed at the owner’s expense. The Department of Transportation is working to clear the roads of snow, but this effort has been hampered by the need to move abandoned vehicles.
Shelters remain open at William Penn High School, Sussex Central High School and Milford Middle School.
The joint public relations team, representing the Delaware State Police, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware Department of Transportation, the Office of Highway Safety and the Delaware National Guard will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves. Non-emergency calls should be directed to the Delaware Helpline at 1-800-464-4357.
The text of the declaration is as follows:
MODIFICATION OF DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR THE STATE OF DELAWARE DUE TO A SEVERE WINTER STORM
WHEREAS, the entire State of Delaware has been subject to significant and record-breaking snowfall for the past 36 hours, and high winds and freezing temperatures continue, creating dangerous conditions; and
WHEREAS, the intensity and duration of the snowfall has kept snowplowing activities limited to major highway routes only, leaving secondary, subdivision and back roads unaddressed; and
WHEREAS, road conditions in Kent County and Sussex County remain particularly treacherous, and emergency officials in those counties continue to urge motorists to stay off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary to seek shelter; and
WHEREAS, thousands of homes and businesses are without power, and likely will continue to be for some time; and
NOW THEREFORE, I, JACK A. MARKELL, pursuant to Title 20, Chapter 31 of the Delaware Code, do hereby declare that the State of Emergency declared for the entire State of Delaware on February 10, 2010 at 12:01 a.m. E.S.T. continues to be in effect until further notice, with the following modifications:
1. Effective February 11, 2010 at noon E.S.T., the travel restriction for operating motor vehicles on the roads of New Castle County is lifted. The travel restriction for operating motor vehicles on the roads of Kent County and Sussex County remains in effect until further notice and motorists should not travel unless otherwise authorized or unless necessary to do so to seek shelter. The lifting of the restriction in New Castle County is intended to allow critical commercial activities and travel on major routes as they become passable.
2. While this formal travel restriction is lifted, motorists, other than authorized personnel responding in emergency situations, are strongly advised to avoid operating motor vehicles on roads in Delaware.
3. State and local officials are authorized to continue to remove abandoned vehicles from roads in affected areas at the expense of the vehicle owner.
4. Private sector businesses are strongly urged to consider the safety of their employees and the inadvisability of travel when deciding whether to resume operating.
5. Except as otherwise stated above, the February 10, 2010 emergency declaration remains in effect, and I continue to reserve the right to take or direct state or local authorities to take, without issuance of further written order, any other necessary actions authorized by Title 20, Chapter 31 of the Delaware Code to respond to this emergency.
APPROVED this 11th day of February, 2010, at noon EST