State Agencies Cooperate on Eclipse Prep
Agencies Continue Preparation for Great American Eclipse
Lincoln, NEB. – Nebraska’s state agencies and partners continue preparations for what is expected to be the largest single tourism event in Nebraska’s history. The total solar eclipse, occurring on Monday, Aug. 21, is drawing national attention to the state. Visitors are expected from around the world, potentially numbering in the hundreds of thousands. The State Emergency Operations Center will be open to monitor activity across the state. Listed below are specific preparations conducted by numerous stakeholders in this statewide effort.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is excited to welcome visitors from around the globe to the Good Life to witness the rare phenomenon as it crosses Nebraska.
"Nebraska’s wide open spaces offer great viewing locations," Gov. Ricketts said. "This will be a very cool experience that we hope many Nebraskans and visitors from across the country and around the world will enjoy. The safety and well-being of Nebraskans and visitors is our number one priority. We are asking everyone to be alert and to plan ahead. Whether you’re traveling to work or making plans to view the eclipse, plan for potential congested traffic and extended travel times.”
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
Airport congestion, increased traffic, high temperatures and dry conditions are some of the issues state agencies are addressing as the day of the total eclipse draws near. NEMA is coordinating with other state agencies in preparation for the influx of visitors for the event.
"We have done our due diligence," said Bryan Tuma, NEMA assistant director. "This is an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime event. While we cannot predict exactly how many vehicles will be on the road, we expect traffic will be congested and urge motorists to use proper safety precautions."
Local emergency management officials across the state have developed incident action plans for the day and have provided information to the state on activities and community needs for the eclipse. NEMA staff will work in the State Emergency Operations Center on Aug. 19-21 should a need for state support be requested over the weekend and on the day of the event. For information and links to state agency and federal websites with eclipse information visit: https://nema.nebraska.gov/operations/2017-solar-eclipse.
Department of Administrative Services
Nebraska state agencies will be open regular hours on Monday, Aug. 21. Agency directors should determine the appropriate staffing levels required to maintain agency operations and essential functions that serve the best interest of the public. With supervisor approval, teammates can use vacation leave, earned compensatory time, or flex their work/lunch schedules to view the eclipse. Teammates are strongly encouraged to use appropriate eye protection during the eclipse. All viewing should be done on personal time.
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
Warm and sunny weather means lots of Nebraskans, and eclipse visitors, will be spending time outdoors, which puts people at greater risk for tick and mosquito bites.
“Ticks and mosquitoes can carry diseases that make people sick,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “Remember to take simple steps like using bug spray to help protect you and your family.”
Other preventative tips include:
- Dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when you’re outside.
- Drain standing water around your home. Standing water and warmth breed mosquitoes.
- Do frequent tick checks are being outdoors and remove attached ticks promptly with fine-tipped tweezers.
Ticks can cause ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and Lyme disease. Symptoms of tick- and mosquito-related illnesses can be similar – fever, rash, body aches and pains. Tick-related illnesses can be serious.
Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and other diseases to people. Last year, there were 68 human cases of West Nile virus and two deaths.
Nebraska Department of Transportation
The Nebraska Department of Transportation is not allowing permitted over-width or over-height commercial traffic. Permitted over-weight traffic will still be allowed. As visitors begin to arrive in the State of Nebraska, please continue to be aware of increased traffic.
As increased traffic continues to move into the state, we encourage people to continue to be aware of their surroundings and plan for extra time to arrive at your destinations. NDOT staff will be on standby along the path of totality as well as in Omaha to help provide help with traffic control as necessary. With increased air travel anticipated for the eclipse, additional resources form the FAA are being provided at the Beatrice and Alliance Airports to help support those local air fields.
Please stay up to date on traffic conditions by downloading the free Nebraska 511 app for iPhone and Android devices. You can also access Nebraska 511 by visiting www.511.nebraska.org. Additionally, you can follow @nebraska511 on Twitter for updates on unexpected and unplanned closures.
Nebraska State Fire Marshal
The State Fire Marshal continues to prepare for the events surrounding and on the day of the eclipse. SFM staff are prepared to support and assist local fire departments and first-responders’ efforts. Remember to pay attention to your surroundings and know your location in case an emergency arises. In less populated areas, it is important to provide at least two crossing county roads to dispatch centers when requesting emergency services. SFM staff are working closely with other agencies and will be on-site at the State Emergency Operations Center on the day of the event.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Nebraska Game and Parks has 34 state park areas and 186 wildlife management areas within the eclipse’s path of totality. Visitation at those areas is expected to be busier than normal.
All campsites within those park areas that may be reserved have been booked for months. Many parks are preparing additional areas for primitive camping and parking during the eclipse. Visitors should be aware of fire safety hazards such as campfires and parking on grassy areas. A park entry permit is required of each vehicle entering a state park area. Purchase these permits in advance to avoid lines at the park. Nearly two dozen eclipse-related events are planned at state park areas. Visit outdoornebraska.gov/eclipse/ for a list of events, as well as an interactive map of state park areas within the path.
Nebraska Military Department
The Nebraska National Guard has placed units in an elevated level of readiness as Monday’s total eclipse approaches. These units are trained and equipped to provide assistance in a number of different missions should local or state emergency response officials require additional capabilities. This includes a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and crew that will be positioned in North Platte on Monday, Aug. 21, with a Bambi Bucket to provide fire suppression support if necessary. Additionally, members of the Nebraska National Guard public affairs office are providing assistance to the Nebraska Joint Information Center located at the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency in Lincoln.
Nebraska State Patrol
NSP officials have given several interviews in recent days about traffic flow around the eclipse time. With a large number of visitors to Nebraska expected for the event, local residents are encouraged to plan accordingly for their eclipse viewing. Know where you want to be for the eclipse ahead of time, and plan for extra travel time to get there.
To assist in traffic operations, NSP’s Aviation Support Division will have three aircraft deployed to different parts of the state on Monday, focusing on traffic in and around the path of totality. NSP will also have extra troopers positioned along I-80 to keep traffic moving. Drivers will not be allowed to park on the shoulder of I-80 or other major highways to view the eclipse.
“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time for the eclipse event,” said Major Russ Stanczyk, Acting Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Drivers should voluntarily follow traffic laws, wear seat belts, and avoid impaired or distracted driving.”
Nebraska Tourism Commission
The excitement continues to build as Nebraska’s Tourism industry prepares for the biggest tourism event that Nebraska has ever seen. Nebraska’s tourism industry has been preparing for this event for almost two years. Many hotels and campgrounds across the state are booked and reservations at hotels near the path of totality are experiencing sell-out situations.
Nebraska Tourism’s website www.VisitNebraska.com has experienced a 30% increase in traffic in recent weeks, as people from all over the world are busily researching all that Nebraska has to offer when they are here to visit.
“The eclipse is providing Nebraska with an incredible amount of exposure to potential visitors,” said Nebraska Tourism’s Executive Director John Ricks. “People from all over the world will get the chance to experience all of the great things that Nebraska has to offer and you can be sure that Nebraska’s tourism industry will do everything possible to make this a memorable experience for all of our visitors.”
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has issued news releases to Nebraska and Kansas media on how travelers can best be prepared for a trip to or through the Nebraska path of totality. Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services Volunteers are prepared in case they are needed in the region. The organization is also monitoring its blood supplies in all locations across the state and nation should the need arise.
Department of Veteran Affairs
All parking at the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery in Alliance is reserved for the families visiting their loved ones. Alliance is expecting big crowds for the eclipse as it is located on the center line of the eclipse path. Cemetery employees will be at the front gate to direct visitors to the community to designated viewing locations in the Alliance area.