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HomeGeneralTexas Officials Express Concern About Solar Eclipse

Texas Officials Express Concern About Solar Eclipse

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Solar Eclipse
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People worldwide get excited about rare events in the sky, like the soon-to-come solar eclipse. Next month, on April 8, 2024, thousands of visitors are expected to come to Texas to see a rare solar eclipse. However, some officials worry about how the large crowds affect local resources.

On April 8, the moon will move in front of the sun, causing darkness in the middle of the day for several states in the U.S. This path of darkness, called the path of totality, will begin in Mexico. Before reaching the North Atlantic, it will then go across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

People along the path of totality will experience the total solar eclipse, which means the sky will become dark as if it were dawn or dusk. If the weather permits, those along this path can witness the sun’s corona, which is usually hidden by the sun’s bright face.

The solar eclipse is expected to draw crowds from around the nation as people head to areas in the path of totality to witness the eclipse. However, Texas officials have raised concerns about stretched public safety resources and the “enormous strain” on local hospitals and congested roadways. 

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These worries have prompted several counties, such as Travis County, Kendall County, and Bell County, to issue disaster declarations in advance of the event. 

“Effective Friday, March 8, 2024, Travis County Judge Andy Brown issued a Declaration of Local Disaster in anticipation of huge crowds, increased traffic, and enormous strains on first responders, hospitals, and roads on the days leading up to, on, and after the day of the upcoming total solar eclipse,” Travis County’s disaster declaration said.

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The declaration added, “The large crowd may create a public safety hazard and impede or delay first responders answering calls for service.” Additionally, multiple school districts plan to close, citing student safety as the reason.

In a recent interview with KXAN in Austin, Texas, Mike Jones, who heads the Office of Emergency Services, shared tips on getting ready for the crowds. He suggested that locals make sure they have enough food and gas. He also advised everyone to be patient if they were out and about on the eclipse day. 

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Jones told Newsweek: “I recommended visiting the stores and gas stations in advance to reduce traffic flow the day of the event and manage individuals’ expectations that we will have a few more visitors in our county than normal. I always encourage people to keep their fuel tanks filled half tank or better as a standard practice.”

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In Hill County, officials have encouraged residents to complete errands like refilling prescriptions days before the eclipse. Meanwhile, in Kerr County, officials anticipate their population of 53,000 people to triple with the expectation of visitors. Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly took action by issuing a disaster declaration on March 4.

According to a webpage about the declaration, “We expect that kind of visiting traffic here to cause extreme traffic congestion on our roadways, place an enormous strain on our first responders and hospital systems, drain our food and fuel supplies, and strain our city and county infrastructure to, quite possibly, overcapacity,” Kelly said.

Every state in the U.S. will experience some part of the upcoming eclipse, with only small areas in Hawaii and Alaska missing out. The last total solar eclipse in the U.S. was in 2017; the next one won’t happen until 2044.

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