- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Gov. Gina Raimondo told Rhode Island residents Monday to prepare for a powerful and potentially historic storm, and to stay off the roads.

Raimondo signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast. Forecasters say the storm could bring 2 to 3 feet of snow to Rhode Island and wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph along the state’s coast.

Travel is banned on all Rhode Island roads starting at midnight, until further notice, Raimondo said. She said Rhode Islanders need to be prepared for a multiday event, and potentially to be without power for days.

“I have a simple message to the people of Rhode Island - get prepared,” she said Monday. “Get prepared and hunker down.”

Here is a look at how the storm might impact Rhode Island and what is being done to prepare:

TREACHEROUS TRAVEL

With snow intensifying overnight, Raimondo asked people to get off the roads by 8 p.m. so plows can get through. State police Col. Steven G. O’Donnell said it’s important to stay home to avoid putting first responders at risk. State police plan to close the Jamestown, Newport and Mount Hope bridges at midnight.

Four hundred plows are ready, but the snow will fall faster than they can plow, according to the state Department of Transportation.

EXECUTIVE ORDER

Raimondo said she declared a state of emergency because she believes lives are at risk. She said the declaration allows her to activate the Rhode Island National Guard, if necessary, access federal funding and better coordinate throughout state government. The state’s emergency operations center opens at 6 p.m. Monday and is expected to remain open throughout the storm.

POWER OUTAGES

National Grid officials said they are preparing for inevitable power outages. Tim Horan, president of National Grid, said about 1,000 additional tree and line crews were requested for the region. He said 30 of those will be in Rhode Island on Monday night, and 30 more are expected to arrive in the morning to be dispatched to the hardest-hit areas. National Grid is staging crews in Warwick and Lincoln.

PREPARATION TIPS

Raimondo asked Rhode Islanders to make sure they have enough heating fuel, batteries, food and water for several days. She said she wants people to check on their relatives and neighbors. The worst of the storm is expected to occur between 1 a.m. to 10 a.m., and it will continue to snow throughout Tuesday, she added. Municipalities and the American Red Cross are opening shelters.

Raimondo said mayors have been contacted to coordinate efforts, and hospitals have confirmed their generators are ready.

“If we pull together as Rhode Islanders, and I know we’ll do that, if we lend a helping hand to our loved ones, we’re going to be fine and we’re going to get through this,” she said.

CLOSINGS

State government is closing at 11 p.m. Monday, and the General Assembly has canceled its activities for Tuesday. All Rhode Island state courts will be closed Tuesday. Several municipalities have issued parking bans and many schools have canceled classes Tuesday. Airlines have told officials at T.F. Green that Tuesday flights will be canceled. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is stopping bus service at 11 p.m. Monday and will not run buses Tuesday.

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