What It Means When a Governor Issues a State of Emergency
When a State of Emergency is declared, it means that the government believes a disaster has occurred or may be imminent and that the situation could be or is severe enough that it will require state aid to supplement local resources in preventing or alleviating damages, loss, hardship, or suffering of residents.
By declaring a State of Emergency, particularly ahead of a serious weather event, the government can get things going in the event that things get really bad and help is needed.
Does a State of Emergency Mean I Have to Do Anything in Particular?
No. A lot of people panic when they hear a State of Emergency declared, but in reality, the declaration of a State of Emergency is really put in place to allow the Department of Emergency Management to act on behalf of the governor and to use the resources and assets of state agencies to provide immediate assistance to localities. Typically, the State Police, National Guard, and departments of Transportation and Health are placed on call to help if needed.
Does a State of Emergency Mean I Can’t Drive or Go Anywhere?
No. You're still okay to travel on area roads unless a full ban is put into effect (or a road is flooded, barricaded, or completely closed but definitely don't try to travel on roads like that. The only time you should plan on staying put is if a full travel BAN is put in place. When authorities ask that there be no unnecessary travel, it means that if you have to go out, you should be especially careful.
How Long Will the State of Emergency Remain in Effect?
Basically, as long as the government has decided that it’s no longer necessary to call on the troops to provide the necessary support to localities or until the threat of impending danger from the event has passed. In this case, the governor expects that everything will be under control by Wednesday, August 22nd. However, the governor can extend the State of Emergency if it becomes apparent that additional help and time are needed.
Does a State of Emergency Mean Schools Automatically Close?
Unless the government mandates that schools must close, the New York State Education Department states, "A declaration of a State of Emergency by the Governor due to adverse weather conditions does not authorize the school districts affected to operate an annual session of less than 180 days." In other words, a state of emergency does not automatically mean that schools have to close. Each district is given the power to make its own decision on whether to stay open or closed based on the conditions in its area.