Governor proclaims emergency; National Guard authorized

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire proclaimed a winter storm emergency as a treacherous storm enveloped much of the state in ice.

The proclamation would allow the activation of the Washington National Guard, if needed, and free up state agencies to take extraordinary steps to help local jurisdictions during the current winter storm.

In addition, the proclamation ensures the delivery of dairy products across Washington state.

"This is purely a precautionary measure," Gregoire said. "So far, we haven't received any requests for state assistance - but we know weather conditions are rapidly changing. I want to make sure we have every resource available to ensure our communities are safe."

She said the proclamation would allow her to activate the National Guard if needed. It also allows state agencies to respond quickly to any storm-related requests from cities and counties for state assistance.

She also said a brief waiver of the restrictions on dairy truck drivers' work hours is needed now to avoid shipment delays that could mean the loss of nearly $1 million a day for the state's dairy industry.

Specifically, the proclamation:

Directs state government to support emergency response activities in local jurisdictions affected by the winter storm;

Allows state agencies to make expenditures and utilize resources to assist local communities in their recovery efforts;

Authorizes the Washington National Guard to activate at the direction of State Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg.

Waives hours of service for drivers of trucks hauling intrastate bulk milk shipments from farms to dairy processing facilities and from dairies to processing facilities. The waiver is in effect through Jan. 22;

The proclamation adds that state actions are to be coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray.