Two decisions made by Gov. Malloy within hours of each other will have nearly immediate impact on state residents:
- Certain towns or areas could be subject to mandatory evacuations
- State parks will close by Saturday evening
The Declaration of Emergency signed Thursday afternoon provides Governor Malloy with a number of emergency powers, including:
- The ability to order evacuations of all or part of the population of a stricken or threatened area and take necessary steps for receipt and care of evacuees.
- The ability to modify or suspend any state statute, regulation, or requirement (for example: altering work hours, waiving licensing requirements, etc.).
- The ability to order civil preparedness forces into action.
- The ability to designate vehicle and person routes and movements.
At a news conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford on Thursday afternoon, Malloy said the weather forecast shows rain from Irene could begin sometime Saturday afternoon and continue through Sunday. Irene is expected to hit the state as a storm downgraded from Category 3 to Category 1 storm; still the storm could drop a total of 10 inches of rain on parts of Connecticut.
In addition, as much as 6-7 inches could fall over a short period of time. Malloy said residents who live in low-lying areas of the state should be prepared for flooding and possible evacuations.
“If I lived in a low-lying area that has ever been evacuated before, I would certainly assume that at some point we would issue an order of evacuation,” Malloy said. “…We’ll watch, we’ll track, we certainly don’t want to disrupt anything that we don’t have to, but we are prepared to move quickly and early should the predictions that we’re currently operating under arise.”
Malloy said his next update for the media will be at noon Friday. He said Connecticut State Police officers had been placed on standby to respond to the storm if needed over the weekend. Malloy said the situation is “all hands on deck,” unless the hurricane forecast is revised.
On the heels of his emergency declaration, Malloy announced in a statement that state parks with campgrounds will close at noon on Saturday and all state parks will close at sunset on Saturday.
The parks could be closed earlier, the state said, if weather conditions warrant. State Parks and campgrounds will remain closed until further notice, according to the statement.
“Hurricane Irene is forecast to hit Connecticut on Sunday afternoon and will be a powerful, dangerous storm,” said Malloy in the statement.
"Although I recognize the inconvenience of having to pack up and leave earlier than planned or having to cancel a day at the parks with family, it is imperative that all of our state residents and visitors be in a secure, safe location until this storm passes. I urge everyone to monitor weather conditions and be prepared for all contingencies," Malloy continued.
The emergency declaration can be seen in the attached pdf document.
Editor's note: David Moran contributed to this article.