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Governor Declares State of Emergency to Prepare for Severe Winter Storm; State Government Closed on Monday, Dec. 27

December 26, 2010

AUGUSTA - Governor John E. Baldacci today declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of a severe winter storm that is expected to produce heavy snow, high winds and blizzard conditions, including extreme whiteouts, periods of zero visibility and drifting snow.

The Governor has also directed that Maine State Government be closed on Monday, Dec. 27. Emergency and essential personnel will be on duty.

“The National Weather Service is warning of extremely dangerous conditions,” Governor Baldacci said. “The best advice is to avoid all unnecessary travel, to stay off the roads and allow road crews and emergency responders to do their work.”

The Governor spoke Sunday to the staff of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, which will coordinate the State’s response to the severe weather, and is monitoring the storm closely.

The State of Emergency will allow the State and MEMA to utilize the resources necessary to respond to the storm and protect public health and safety.

The National Weather Service has posted Blizzard and Winter Storm Warnings for all of Maine. Coastal flooding is also possible later tonight for Portland and other coastal areas. The storm is expected to intensify overnight, and dangerous conditions will continue into Monday late afternoon and evening.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency joins the NWS Gray and Caribou Forecast Offices in urging all Mainers and visitors to stay off the roads, pay close attention to weather warnings and stay safe.

MEMA advises:

• Stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Blizzard conditions are forecast for coastal and eastern Maine. Strong winds, low visibility, blowing and drifting snow will all make for extremely dangerous, life-threatening whiteout conditions. The fewer vehicles that are on the road, the easier it will be for snowplows to operate.

• Pay attention. The National Weather Service is tracking this storm closely. Stay “tuned in” to your best source of weather information to stay up to date on the latest predictions for the storm. Up to date weather warnings are posted at www.maineprepares.com

• If you lose power, use emergency generators and alternate heat sources safely. Carbon monoxide kills. Remember to keep outside vents for heaters and stoves clear of snow, as clogged vents may also pose carbon monoxide dangers.

• Check on neighbors and friends who may not be as well prepared.

• If you see a downed power line, stay away from it, and notify the electric utility.

• If you are in an area that is vulnerable to coastal flooding, stay aware of any local conditions, and cooperate with any local road closures or other emergency measures.

Special Safety message about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

Warning signs of CO poisoning are flu-like symptoms such headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion, but without a fever.

If you or anyone in the home thinks you are being poisoned by carbon monoxide:

• Leave the house at once.

• Call the fire department or 911.

• Get medical attention. Call the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) or your doctor after you leave the house.

• Stay out of the building until the fire department tells you it is safe.

For more information on storm safety and preparedness, visit www.maineprepares.com

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