Lincoln City preps for onslaught of eclipse watchers

Lincoln City first spot in US where solar eclipse will be seen

The beach and Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, June 27, 2017 (KOIN)
The beach and Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, June 27, 2017 (KOIN)

LINCOLN CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — In 54 days, the total solar eclipse will make landfall in the US, and the first place to see it will be Lincoln City. An extra 50,000 to 100,000 people are expected to overfill the city.

And that’s why city leaders met Tuesday to share safety measures they plan to have in place before the eclipse on August 21.

Complete Coverage: Oregon solar eclipse

Emergency response times will be hampered by snarled traffic. Officials are concerned about overtaxing the city’s water supply, and communication issues are a factor. In the past on a busy summer weekend, cell phone service has been disrupted.

Residents gathered to plan for the influx of eclipse watchers in Lincoln City, June 27, 2017 (KOIN)
Residents gathered to plan for the influx of eclipse watchers in Lincoln City, June 27, 2017 (KOIN)

Everyone is talking about how inconvenient the eclipse crowds will be for Lincoln City residents. That’s why planners and citizens met now — and will continue to meet going forward.

“If we were in blizzard country, we’re predicting a blizzard,” said Jim Kusz of North Lincoln Fire & Rescue. “You might have to stay at your home for 3 or 4 days, have your supplies ahead of time, if not longer.”

He also suggested residents stay close to home. “Do not make any unnecessary appointments during that time. Realize that things are going to be really tied up.”

Emergency responders won’t have a specific plan of action until a few weeks before the August 21 event. But they will keep taking questions and input at meetings between now and then.

“It’s almost like you’re playing with deck of cards, and you want to see what the next card is that comes up,” Kusz told KOIN 6 News. “You say, ‘OK that changes my hand, that changes my play.'”

The city’s emergency preparedness manager, Mark Nicholson, said there are some ideas they’re considering, like “having locals-only traffic in a certain area, or make sure we sign ‘No Parking’ on the shoulders in areas where maybe it’s not legal but it’s not marked.”

Nicholson said for some things there are clear answers. “Some, it’s just the nature of the beast. We’re not going to know until we get there.”

“People are finally beginning to put together all the puzzle parts,” Kusz said. “A whole lot of things could happen simultaneously.”

The solar eclipse will take this path on its way across the U.S. (KOIN)
The solar eclipse will take this path on its way across the U.S. (KOIN)