otal Solar Eclipse. Headlines, internet alerts and general scuttlebutt have it that on August 21, 2017, a little over a month away, we will have a complete solar eclipse. This particular event is scheduled to arrive on the central Oregon coast shortly after 10:15 AM PDT, and is slated to last between two and three minutes, depending on where you happen to be located. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the 48 contiguous states since 1979. All across the United States, special events are being planned to explain, educate and observe the eclipse.
So how does this play into a disaster preparedness situation? I have been mildly curious about the advance information being published by various websites and news sources. Some of the warnings are reminiscent of preparing for a disaster: Prepare to shelter in place. Purchase food and fuel at least a week in advance. Don’t expect to be able to use a cell phone in an emergency. Other warnings include being careful with barbecue grills, open flame and sharp objects because with the expected influx of visitors, emergency response will be slowed dramatically.
The county surrounding Lincoln City, Oregon, local population around 46,000, is expecting to swell to at least 115,000 bringing potential gridlock, cell phone system failure, possible traffic accidents and, oh yes, be on the lookout for potential cases of road rage.
There are already reports of hotels cancelling reservations or raising rates on reserved rooms. At least one farmer is going to forego his second cutting of hay and is turning his hay fields into one big RV park. One vineyard owner has rented some porta-potties, arranged for a water truck and plans to cash in on the short-term pilgrims seeking enlightenment through a two-and-a-half minute event. At least one church is offering their parking lot for RVers to set up housekeeping for the day.
For the locals who want to just carry on with their normal schedule, officials are encouraging them to stock up on food and gasoline, to shelter in, and in one case, buy snow fencing to keep unwanted folks off your property.
Personally, I’d rather watch the spectacle on TV from the comfort of my home, located safely outside the affected region.
But if you can’t help yourself and feel you must give your family this educational opportunity of the decade, then here are some suggestions. Get there at least two days early. If you have an RV, use it. Tents are fine, but you need a place to camp. Hotels are going to be booked solid weeks ahead so don’t be surprised if there is no room at the inns. Just like on a camping trip, take everything you’re going to need, plan to do your own cooking and then stay at least a day longer to let the departing hordes get out so you can leave safely.
As always, send your remarks to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dave Robinson is a retired Postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.