President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for Rhode Island early Monday morning as Gov. Lincoln Chafee requested on Sunday.
The declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all five Rhode Island counties.
The stateâ€™s Emergency Management Agency designated Cumberland High School on Mendon Road as its only shelter in northern Rhode Island and it has been operating since Sunday evening.
Early Monday morning, Chafee ordered all non-essential state offices closed and non-essential employees were told to stay home.
Providenceâ€™s hurricane barrier was closed at about 7 a.m. Monday, about one hour before the first of two high tides that are expected to give the barrier its most severe test since it was built in the early 1960s. That will protect the downtown Providence area, which has seen heavy flooding in previous historic hurricanes, but it is not known how it will affect areas south of the barrier, such as East Providence, Cranston and Warwick, where the water blocked by the barrier will be backed up.
RIPTA bus service throughout the state was suspended at noon on Monday. The agency said it will restore service as quickly as possible as soon as conditions allow following the storm,
Passengers should continue to monitor news reports; check www.RIPTA.com and RIPTAâ€™s social media outlets for service advisory updates. Passengers can sign up for electronic News Updates at http://www.ripta.com/detours-news; RIPTA will provide e-mail notices to passengers on this distribution list, so they can be alerted once service resumes.
RIPTA customers can visit RIPTAâ€™s website, www.ripta.com, or social media accounts (Facebook @RideRIPTA ,Twitter @RIPTA_RI), for updated service status updates and travel advisories.
AMTRAK train and bus service was cancelled Monday, by mid-day there were no estimates of when service would resume.
The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority made plans to close the Newport Pell Bridge, the Jamestown Bridge, the Mount Hope Bridge and the Sakonnet River Bridge.
The RI Ethics Commission meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday has been canceled.