August 21 solar sclipse could bring as many as a half million additional people to the commonwealth to experience the event

07/14/2017 08:37 AM

FRANKFORT – A total solar eclipse will be seen in 21 Kentucky counties on Monday, August 21 attracting as many as 500,000 visitors along the pathway in the commonwealth.

Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection that he feels confident that procedures will be in place to make the day go as smoothly and orderly as possible.

Dossett says that the best point in the world to view the eclipse will be in Hopkinsville.

“The high point of the commonwealth is that near Hopkinsville is the ground zero, not for the national eclipse, but the global eclipse,” Dossett said. “They have confirmed that visitors from 36 states, visitors from about 16 countries, Hopkinsville is estimating that their influx of population at 100,000.”

Emergency management personnel began planning a year ago to handle to huge crowds and make the event as safe as possible.

“In October we brought our ESF’s in, these are our cabinet partners and our ancillary federal partners and began the planning for what would be required by virtue of state services that might need to be leveraged because of crowd surge,” Dossett said.

The event will actually take about 3 hours from point of first contact until the eclipse has completely passed over head. Point of first contact (when the moon first begins to move in front of the sun) will be 11:56 a.m. CT, with full totality beginning at 1:24 p.m. and lasting for 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds. The last partial phase of the eclipse will end at 2:51 p.m. CT.

A lot of the priorities that are being considered include accessibility to food and bottled water, restroom facilities, cooling centers, medical care, transportation, law enforcement, and getting people in and out of the areas.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, asked Dossett about any security risks and and advice for local residents who reside in the totality areas.

“The advice I would give to residents is two words, be patient,” Dossett said. “In terms of the risk factor, there is no identified threat at this point.”

Dossett’s biggest concern is when the eclipse concludes.

“Frankly, the main event will be when the people leave the Hopkinsville area,” Dossett said. “We’re actually going to schedule aircraft sorties, primarily by rotarcraft every two hours just to insure that we have our eyes on the major surface routes, both at the local level and the interstates.”

The city of Hopkinsville has a website with visitor information related to the solar eclipse:
http://www.eclipseville.com/

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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