The measure waives restrictions on work hours for dairy-truck drivers and activates the Washington National Guard to aid in transportating milk.
Driven by a winter storm that's wreaking havoc on the state's roads, Washingon Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued a proclamation that offers government resources to help the state's dairy industry deliver valuable products across the state.
The proclamation would also – if needed – allow the activation of the Washington National Guard, and free up state agencies to take extraordinary steps to help local jurisdictions during the winter storm.
“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. This proclamation would allow us to activate the National Guard if we need to.
"It also allows state agencies to respond quickly to any storm-related requests from cities and counties for state assistance," she added. "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.”
The storm began Jan. 17 and is expected to continue for several days, producing extensive snowfall throughout the Washington lowlands and in mountain elevations. It has affected roadways and caused temporary closures of key transportation routes.
Doug Visser said the storm has put his family’s four dairies in “survival mode.” Two of their dairies near Sumas have received 14” of snow this week.
“We’re working long days to get the bare essentials done,” Visser said today. That means ensuring his cows have ample food and water, and employees get to and from work.
“The roads are not good,” said Visser. “We have blowing snow and drifts. Milk trucks are making it in and out of dairies, but they’re not on schedule.”
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport closed all three runways early today, although two were reopened by 10:30 a.m. and airlines were working to clear a backlog of flights. The Journal also said Puget Sound Energy reported that more than 90,000 customer were without power.
• 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;
• 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; and
• Authorizes the Washington National Guard to activate at the direction of State Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg.
The proclamation adds that state actions are to be coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Camp Murray.