Here's what you need to know about a state of emergency in New Jersey.
What is a state of emergency?
It is a declaration by the governor that makes available a wide array of state resources — from safety personnel to debris removal equipment — to help local communities cope with extreme weather events or other disasters. It also allows the state to mobilize the New Jersey National Guard or to use certain federal assets belonging to them, such as high-wheeled vehicles, ready-to-eat meals and generators.
Does a state of emergency include a travel ban?
In most cases, no.
“A state of emergency doesn’t mean travel ban,” explained Laura Connolly, a public information officer with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. “A travel ban is something we only do in very, very extreme circumstances because that means closing down interstates and state roads.”
But local and county officials can issue their own emergency declarations that include restrictions on movement for public safety reasons. And in many cases, staying off the roads may be prudent regardless of a travel ban. Drivers can check road conditions and travel updates at 511nj.org.
For Wednesday's storm, a commercial truck restriction is in place along the interstate highways but doesn't apply to the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway to exit 105 or Atlantic City Expressway
Will businesses and schools close?
The state cannot tell private businesses or schools when to close. However, local officials may enact restrictions under local emergency declarations. School closings are left up to individual districts.
A state of emergency does not automatically shut state offices, but Murphy has announced that all state offices will close at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
How can I receive updates?
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management posts updates on its social media accounts and on its website, ready.nj.gov. The state can also disseminate information through the Emergency Alert System, law enforcement agencies, Department of Transportation highway signs and media outlets.
Information about local closures and conditions will generally come from local officials.
Does NJ receive federal assistance to respond to emergencies?
Municipalities and counties can receive federal assistance through a process that begins with a preliminary damage assessment immediately after an emergency and later requires a disaster declaration by the president. Some individuals and families may also be eligible for assistance should a presidential disaster declaration be issued.
New Jersey received $73 million in federal assistance following a January 2016 storm that dumped more than 2 feet on snow on North Jersey.