By April Bailey & Laura Swanson
It is a once in a lifetime event — a total solar eclipse that will cast itself across the entire United States; a corner of South Tillamook County and the Central Oregon Coast are in the “path of full totality.” And while most of us in Tillamook County do not have to travel to observe this celestial phenomena, we will none the less need to make some preparations. Regardless of whether all the dire warnings are hype or over reaction, it never hurts to be prepared and the expected influx adds to the already bursting at the seams North Oregon Coast — as statistically, the third week in August tallies the most visitors to our lovely little county.
With estimation of 1 million people traveling to our state to witness this eclipse, those of us living near “ground zero” have a few concerns about where all those people will stay, how we will travel to our necessary places of business, and whether there will be adequate public restrooms. As Representative Gomberg is dubbing this event “Woodstock at the Beach,” residents would fare well by taking note of recommendations by state agencies.
How will our small coastal towns will be able to absorb tens of thousands of additional people? Nestucca Valley Chamber of Commerce member Doug Olson reassures, “[government agencies have] made a sincere effort to anticipate possible issues.” Olson validates his point by citing the 13-14 agencies that came to the Chamber’s recent meeting concerning eclipse preparations.
The state and local governing agencies have certainly taken action to aid both the native and visiting peoples Thursday, August 17th, through Tuesday, August 22nd. Specifically, Governor Brown has ordered all Oregon National Guard Members to be in “State Active Duty” status. These military personnel will be working with local agencies to provide medical evacuations, assist search and rescue parties, and support traffic control. Concerning traffic control, the rumors of one lane traffic on highways connecting the coast to the Willamette Valley, are just rumors. Roads will officially remain open to traffic, albeit congested traffic that will have more restrictions than normal for parking along the road to enable emergency vehicle access. In fact, according to Nestucca Rural Fire Chief, Jim Oeder, “take the 4th of July and multiply it by 5-6 times,” in order to amply understand possible traffic delays. Undoubtedly, the morning of the eclipse will hold the most traffic issues, perhaps coming to a standstill during the full eclipse at approximately 10:16 a.m.
Timeline for the eclipse: The eclipse will begin at approximately 9 a.m. as the moon moves in front of the sun, the total eclipse is at about 10:15 am, then the moon will move off the sun and the eclipse will be over about 11 am.
Another entity that may come to a total standstill is internet service. From cell phone calls to internet streaming to credit card transactions there is a definite possibility that these services may not be available. The main concern with this issue being emergency service calls. For this reason authorities are requesting that people not attempt to make live feed videos via their cell phone—especially during the totality moments of the eclipse. As Mr. Olson explained coastal cell service does not have the capacity to handle the increased usage.
Another legitimate concern is whether there will be adequate public restrooms. As early as June it was reported that porta potties were being trucked in from California, but more recently from as far as Utah. To understand the scope of the eclipse preparations in Central Oregon, Michael Bailey reported that by Tuesday the Madras landscape, typically empty or growing hay fields are dotted with porta potties. Chief Oeder has a concern that people will simply be relieving themselves along the road, as needed.
Pacific City Eclipse Parking
For RV’s that are 26 feet or shorter and can be self contained/self sustained there is still parking spaces available for $250 at Kiawanda Community Center. Parking lot will open at 7 p.m. On the August 20th and will have attendants to assist with parking until midnight. These parking spots are reservation only. Call (503)965-7900 for reservations and further details.
Given all of the above here are some recommendations made by various local and state authorities, with particular focus for South County residents (as well as North County – in the 99.5% totality area) for Thursday, August 17th through Tuesday, August 22nd:
1. Unless you are fully mentally and physically prepared for very congested traffic, stay home on the day of the eclipse, but in the least avoid highly congested areas (i.e. Cape Kiwanda) or possible highly sought viewing areas (oceanfront pullouts or ocean view areas period). NOTE: Many businesses have decided to close on Monday August 21st for the safety of their employees. If you do need to go out, especially during the morning hours, check to make sure the business is open or that employees have been able to get to the place of business.
OSU EXTENSION OFFICE WILL BE CLOSED on Monday, August 21st.
Nestucca Valley Sanitary Service (NVSS) has stated they “will not be open or picking up garbage on Monday, August 21st.” Monday commercial customers will have a pick up on Sunday, Aug 20th. All other Monday residential customers will be picked up on Tuesday along with Tuesday customers. “We are hoping that the roads will be semi passable on Tuesday. We are asking our customers to please be patient,” says NVSS personnel.
2. Limit electrical, internet, fuel, and water use. All systems and resources are expected to be used to full capacity.
3. Stock up on food, water, fuel, and cash now — on Thursday or Friday. You may not be able to make card transactions or even make ATM withdrawals on Monday (or before that.)
4. Use caution whatever you are doing. Emergency services will be in high demand.
5. If an emergency occurs utilize local first aid centers for minor issues.
6. If you are on the beach —- watch out for tide changes. Low tide at 7:56 a.m. will be -.9 and high tide at 2:04 p.m. will be 7.4 on Eclipse Day.
7. We are in a total burn ban AND emergency services will be in high demand. Furthermore, many state forestry crews are currently dispatched on forest fires throughout the Northwest. Please do all possible to avoid forest fires.
8. If you are very brave soul, and wish to view the eclipse in the Cape Kiwanda area there will be extra parking available at the NVCA Parking Lot south of the Cape. It opens at 7 a.m. and will be asking for a $30 donation as a parking fee. Proceeds go to NVCA.
9. If you must travel allow ample travel time, expect delays, and bring plenty of patience.
10. NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN DURING AN ECLIPSE. There have been over 10,000 eclipse glasses distributed by Tillamook Coast, but if you want to watch the eclipse and did not receive a pair you may still be able to purchase a pair at a local vendor. At time of publication, we have reports that a LIMITED SUPPLY of eclipse glasses are available for free from the Tillamook Main Library and at the Pacific City Library; retailers with eclipse glasses are Toylandia in Manzanita; Fred Meyer/Tillamook; Center Markets/most locations. Please heed all of the warnings about not looking directly at the eclipse without eye protection!
Nestucca Rural Fire Department and local ambulance crews have worked very hard to prepare for this event. There will be a second ambulance stationed at the Neskowin Fire Department. There will also be first aid centers located at the Neskowin, Pacific City, and Hebo Fire Departments that can treat and/or examine minor injuries. The Pacific City Bayshore Medical Center will accept walk-ins Friday and Monday. Local Urgent Cares will be available on all weekend days EXCEPT Saturday. If you believe you have suffered damage to your eyes due to the eclipse seek medical attention immediately.
On a final note, most of us will be able to witness this once in a lifetime event from our homes, or close to them. Take advantage of this opportunity to view a unique alignment of our planet with our two most important heavenly bodies, with proper eye protection. This will be an event worth taking notes about for future generations.