What Does A "State of Emergency" Mean?

With the autumn floods and hurricanes a'brewing, I have heard of several governors considering announcing a "State of Emergency". But what does that even mean? What happens after a leader declares it?

Virginia's government website gives a pretty clear answer. Here are some of their most common questions and answers about SOEs:


Q: What is a State of Emergency?

A: The governor declares a State of Emergency when s/he believes a disaster has occurred or may be imminent that is severe enough to require state aid to supplement local resources in preventing or alleviating damages, loss, hardship or suffering.

This declaration authorizes the governor to speed state agency assistance to communities in need. It enables him/her to make resources immediately available to rescue, evacuate, shelter, provide essential commodities (heating fuel, food, etc.) and quell disturbances in affected localities. It may also position the state to seek federal assistance when the scope of the event exceeds the [state's] resources.

Q: Does a State of Emergency declaration direct citizens to take any particular action?

A: No. The declaration empowers [the state's Department of Emergency Management] to act on behalf of the governor to employ the resources and assets of state agencies to provide immediate assistance to localities. Typically, the State Police, National Guard, and departments of Transportation and Health are called upon rather quickly to respond to the event, and other departments [or private agencies] are added as needed.

Q: Does a State of Emergency mean you aren't allowed to go anywhere or do anything until it's lifted?

A: The governor's declaration does not normally restrict citizen movements or activities. The state may limit access to affected areas due to concerns for public safety but will notify the public of these restrictions.

Q: How long will the State of Emergency remain in effect?

A: Basically, a State of Emergency remains in effect until it is no longer needed to provide necessary support to localities or until the threat of impending danger from the event has passed.


FYI. :)


  1. does this mean no work, if so why am I working driving around like an idiot???

  2. hmmm.... i learned sumthin 2day.....

  3. ds is vry educative. It has thrown more light to the meaning of the state of emergency declared by some state governors in my country. Hmmm..thanks!

  4. OMG! Now i knw..nd de little i knw,i wil neva 4get.."state of emergency"

  5. Very informative as well as shocking,have been in several incidents that was declared a state of emergency,but there was no assistance to those in the community of the effected area.