GOVERNOR'S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE -- Gov. Chris Gregoire today proclaimed a state of emergency for 16 Eastern Washington counties after heavy storms caused significant power outages, fuel shortages and road closures, which are threatening at-risk populations, including those with medical needs. The counties affected by the proclamation include Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties.
A series of storms, starting July 13th, produced high winds, severe thunderstorms, and extreme rainfall that caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, public buildings and infrastructure. “The storm damage and its effects continue to impact the life and health of our citizens, as well as the property and transportation infrastructure of Washington State, all of which affect life, health, property, or the public peace, and constitute a public emergency demanding immediate action,” Gregoire wrote in the proclamation.
“This was a significant storm system that has not only impacted our roads and utilities, but sadly led to a storm-related death in Ferry County,” Gregoire said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family and friends.”
The proclamation directs state agencies “to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected political subdivisions in an effort to respond to and recover from the event.” Additionally, the Washington State Military Department, Emergency Management Division, is instructed to coordinate all incident-related assistance to the affected areas.
The Military Department has activated the state Emergency Operations Center, implemented response procedures, and is coordinating resources to support tribal and local officials in alleviating the immediate social and economic impacts to people, property, and infrastructure, and is continuing to assess the magnitude of the event.
“Washington state response activities have been underway since late Friday night and have continued to expand,” Gregoire said. Agencies involved in the state response include the state Departments of Transportation, Commerce, Natural Resources, Social and Health Services and Military, the Washington State Patrol, and Consolidated Technology Services.