By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
To many, it may seem odd that the state of Wyoming was included in President Joe Biden’s emergency declaration for Hurricane Ida.
Especially because Wyoming is in the middle of the country and nearly 1,500 miles from Louisiana, where the hurricane hit earlier this week.
It’s about transportation and freight movement across the nation.
Simply put, Wyoming is included in the emergency declaration because it allows truckers to drive longer than federal rules allow if they are providing direct assistance related to the hurricane.
“WYDOT understands the critical importance freight movement has on not just our state but our nation, especially after natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida,” WYDOT Director Luke Reiner said. “We hope this emergency order helps bring important supplies to those affected, but we also encourage freight haulers to not drive drowsy or distracted.”
“Hours of service” refers to the maximum amount of time drivers are permitted to be on duty including driving time, and specifies number and length of rest periods, to help ensure that drivers stay awake and alert, according to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration.
Currently, federal regulations allow truck drivers to drive for 11 hours maximum when hauling property and 10 hours maximum when carrying passengers.
Gov. Mark Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security is the agency that receives nationwide requests for assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
“These requests are for a variety of forms of assistance, including wildfires, COVID and the recent hurricane,” Pearlman said. “At this time, there haven’t been requests related to Hurricane Ida that Wyoming has the resources to respond to. We will continue to evaluate and consider requests as they come in.”
The declaration will last until Sept. 28.