JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – The great American eclipse is now only five weeks away. There are plenty of parties planned for the big day. But emergency crews in the path of the darkness have to prepare for the serious side of the eclipse.
“There are a lot of moving pieces to this and just something you go t to plan for and prepare for the best you can,” said Warren Robinson, the Emergency Management Director in Jefferson County.
Jefferson County will be one of the best spots in the country to see the eclipse. Warren Robinson said the county’s emergency operation center will be open that day. According to predictions, the population in Jefferson County could more than double in 24 hours: from 230,000 to more than 540,000 people.
“That comes with an increase in demand of public safety,” Robinson said. “We’ll have heart attacks and accidents on the highway and all that going to place a strain on public safety.”
Herculaneum will have a two-day festival in the city park. The day of the eclipse the watch party will move up the road to the high school, classes are canceled.
Local officials, including fire and police authorities, have been discussing eclipse preps for more than a year. They wonder if roads will get too crowded and delay emergency responders.
“I think our biggest concern is traffic. With traffic comes accidents,” said Herculaneum Mayor Bill Haggard, who also serves as the fire chief.
Will the weather be nice or extremely hot? If it’s too hot, there could be heat illnesses. If it’s cloudy, the size of the crowd could drop dramatically.
“Nobody’s experienced this before; we think we got it covered, but we don’t know,” Haggard said.
If you plan on coming to Jefferson County, some of the best advice is to pack lots of patience just in case hundreds of thousands of other people had the same idea as you.