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Roberts: Gov's office should have informed me

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts says, "It is [a concern], in many ways," that Governor Carcieri's office did not inform her of his plans to travel out of the country. "I understand that under the Constitution he is charge," even if out of state. "[But] I think the public is looking for a visible presence," during an event like yesterday's storm.

Roberts's bottom line: the state's Emergency Operations Center -- which, she says, would have enabled better communication and coordination -- should have been activated yesterday. "Mid-afternoon, when it became clear that the situation was not resolving itself," is when the EOC should have been triggered, Roberts says.

Asked who was running the state, she says it appears to have been a team of Brian Stern, Governor Carcieri's chief of staff, and Jerome Williams, head of the state Department of Transportation.

BeloBlog is reporting that Major General Robert T. Bray, adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard, says the storm "did not warrant a 'multi-jurisdictional event' that would have activated the state Emergency Operations Center."

Saying that the traffic problem was confined to Greater Providence, Bray said "statewide, the emergency was well handled," which is why, he said, the EOC was not triggered.

Governor Carcieri's chief of staff, Brian Stern, said at the same State House news conference attended by Bray and Col. Brendan Doherty, who leads state police, that it was an "unprecedented traffic disaster."

He said he spoke to the governor, who has been in Iraq, yesterday evening. He said the governor was primarily concerned with whether there were fatalities or injuries and that the governor was assured there were not.

Stern attributed the traffic gridlock largely to schools closing between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and businesses sending employees home at the same time, which meant a traffic surge.

The lieutenant governor says she offered assistance yesterday, but was rebuffed by Stern, who felt, she says, that it was not needed. "I believe we should work effectively together on behalf of the people of the state," Roberts says. Asked where the governor is today, she says, "I believe he is in Kuwait."

Roberts says she shares the frustration of Rhode Islanders who were disappointed with the response to yesterday's storm.

She says she remained in her State House office until 10 last night, and that it took about 40 minutes to drive home to Cranston. The first mile of Route 10 that she reached appeared unplowed and it was littered with abandoned cars. Roberts says she got stuck herself at the split of Routes 6 and 10.

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