What a State of Emergency Means

What is a State of Emergency ? What exactly does that mean ? We frequently receive questions and comments on SOE’s, below is a plain language explanation.

Your municipal OEM, County OEM or the Governor can declare a State of Emergency for your jurisdiction.  When a large event occurs such as Superstorm Sandy, you may see the Governor declare an SOE statewide, or for many… counties.

A State of Emergency is declared when a disaster has occurred or may be imminent that is severe enough to require State aid to supplement local resources in preventing or alleviating damages, loss, hardship or suffering. This declaration authorizes the Governor to speed State agency assistance to communities in need. It enables him to make resources immediately available to rescue, evacuate, shelter, provide essential commodities (i.e., heating fuel, food, etc.) and quell disturbances in affected localities. It may also position the State to seek federal assistance when the scope of the event exceeds the State’s resources.

Many assume that if an SOE is declared, that you can’t drive or there are automatically curfews. IMPORTANT: That may or may not be true, so you have to pay attention to what is being said when the SOE is declared.

The declaration does not normally restrict citizen movements or activities. It may limit access to affected areas due to concerns for public safety, the public should be notified of these restrictions.

If it is necessary to impose vehicular or personal movement restrictions, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management will alert the public using all available means, including, but not limited to: traditional media, social media, the Emergency Alert System, urgent press releases, DOT highway signs, etc. We try to amplify all message that we receive from local officials.

If there are driving restrictions every effort will be made by NJOEM to facilitate safe passage for utility, health care and emergency services workers whose presence is necessary for public safety or in response to the Emergency.

Employers should have a policy in place regarding severe weather, closures, time off rules and regs, etc. An SOE does not mandate policies for individual businesses regarding their employees.

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