Durkan declares civil emergency due to winter storm

This morning, Mayor Durkan signed an order declaring a civil emergency due to the arriving winter storm.

The declaration is due to “a severe winter weather storm resulting in freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and persistent wind gusts 35-45 miles per hour (MPH) threatening public safety, property destruction and injury, and hazardous travel conditions.

The emergency declaration gives the Mayor additional powers as described in the Seattle Municipal Code. Those powers include:

  • imposing curfews in parts or all of the city;
  • ordering the closing of any or all business establishments until further order;
  • ordering the closure of establishments where alcohol is sold;
  • ordering the discontinuance of the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages;
  • ordering the discontinuance of the sale or distribution of firearms and/or ammunition;
  • ordering the discontinuance of the sale or distribution of gasoline or other flammable products in any container other than a vehicle’s gas tank;
  • ordering the closing to the public of any or all public places including streets, alleys, public ways, schools, parks, beaches, amusement areas, and public buildings;
  • ordering the prohibition of carrying weapons (other than the police or military);
  • directing the use of all public and private health, medical, and convalescent facilities and equipment to provide emergency health and medical care for injured persons;
  • authorizing the shutting off, restoration, and operation of utility services;
  • ordering evacuations of part or all of the city;
  • “such other orders as are imminently necessary for the protection of life and property.”

In tandem with the civil emergency declaration, Mayor Durkan signed an order authorizing department heads to contract for and otherwise obtain or procure items and services “necessary to combat this weather disaster, protect the health and safety of persons and property, and provide emergency assistance to the victims of such disaster.” In doing so, they may ignore the usual ordinances and rules regarding procurement and contracting, including those related to competitive bidding.

The two orders were transmitted to the City Council, which then may ratify them, modify them, or reject them. Or they can take no action, in which case they remain in effect until withdrawn by the Mayor.

Durkan also activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the city’s response.

Here’s the city’s early-afternoon update on government services.