Here are my thoughts following the August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse that visited the Central Oregon region this past weekend.
This writing was published as a Letter to the Editor in the Redmond Spokesman on Wednesday 9/30/2017 and the Bend Bulletin on Sunday September 3, 2017 (common ownership of the two newspapers)…
A Redmond church had a sign out front that welcomed all to “Come worship with us Sunday at 10 am.” This sign was behind two large white barricades and some cones that blocked the two entrances to the parking lot with a sign attached that stated boldly “NO ECLIPSE PARKING!” Redmond had signs in front of the dog park in the Spud Bowl declaring “No Camping.” Yet, cheezy signs for the Redmond Brewfest were prominently displayed at the Highway 97 entrances to Redmond during eclipse weekend.
Local governments and their departments and personnel frantically prepared for the onslaught in the weeks prior to the eclipse. Public officials made statements that the “estimates” for the influx of eclipse observers into Central Oregon could be between 300,000 and 3 million visitors. Stores and restaurants stocked up accordingly. Gas lines and shortages were touted (they never happened). Public safety agencies staffed up. Garbage collection companies advanced their schedules for garbage pick-up in Redmond anticipating traffic clogged roads on Monday. Redmond City Hall was locked on Monday with some staff inside carrying out their duties. Many companies and public agencies either closed or recommended clients/customers arrange their schedules to avoid Monday.
What happened? Well, the hype played out as just that…hype. Now we have overstocked stores and restaurants. The anticipated Armageddon with the estimated human migration to Central Oregon simply didn’t happen. The fear factor that spurred much of the advance preparation was just that…fear.
I wonder what the actual cost s incurred in the Tri-County area and major cities will come in at for all this defensive preparation? Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from this non-event in Central Oregon. Here are a few that come to mind: