Eclipse 2024: Counties Declare State of Emergency in advance of April 8 Eclipse

Solar Eclipse April 8, 2024

Officials in Kaufman County, Texas issued a disaster declaration Wednesday ahead of next month’s total solar eclipse, saying they expect the county’s population to double and for traffic to be a major issue.

This dramatic increase in population, even for a short time, will greatly impact our Public Safety agencies, taxing their ability to respond to calls. Law enforcement, Fire, EMS, Emergency Management, and many other agencies have been meeting for several months to prepare for this event,” the county said in a statement.

Kaufman County is located about 30 miles outside of Dallas, and officials expect the population to double April 8, with an estimated 200,000 visitors. The majority of them are expected to gather in downtown Kaufman to witness every moment of the spectacle that will last up to four minutes. The path of totality cuts through the central and eastern regions of the U.S., stretching from Texas to Indiana to Maine.

County officials said they have tried to think of every scenario including the overuse of porta-potties at eclipse viewing events. According to Howie, inspectors will make sure, “they don’t overload their septic systems. Because if you overload the septic system, it just pops off the top and rolls over, now you’ve got a biological emergency.”

In addition to traffic concerns and a strain on emergency services, the county is also thinking about gas supply. “We have been talking with fuel stations. The biggest which is Buc-ee’s. They will fill tanks to capacity on the 5th,” Howie said. “Our other (gas stations) will also be working the same premise, too. (To) top off as best they can beforehand and hope we won’t run out.”

The county said Allen also reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) requesting a state disaster declaration which would make more state assets available if needed.  While several other Texas counties in totality have also issued disaster declarations, so far there has been no statement from the governor’s office on a wider declaration.

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