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Emergency management personnel get ready for possible extreme weather on eclipse day



Little Rock, Arkansas – The projected 1.5 million eclipse tourists who are expected to visit Arkansas next Monday are expected to present a variety of issues for state and municipal organizations as the complete solar eclipse approaches.

The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) has been leading the coordination of state and local agencies’ eclipse preparations for the past year.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking knowing that it’s finally here, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is just around the corner—but I feel confident,” said ADEM Operations Specialist Eric Ekhoff.
Increased traffic and possible gridlock, possible strains on the state’s infrastructure as a whole, wastewater systems, fueling, and other issues are the main worries of state and local leaders. In order to improve upon its past mistakes, ADEM stated that it has examined how other states, such as Colorado and Wyoming, managed the 2017 eclipse.

“Traffic—real challenge, real issue, they didn’t have the infrastructure—their road system just wasn’t designed to handle that that way,” Ekhoff said. “Not saying ours is perfectly designed for that, it’s not, but the plans that ARDOT has developed is a solid plan.”
An other issue facing Arkansas is the lack of emergency services workers. During the eclipse, the Arkansas National Guard will be available in case assistance is required.

“The individual counties, they’ve come up with plans for how they’re staging their medical and their fire and that’s a major challenge because some of the big shortages in our public safety is with fire, law enforcement, and EMS,” Ekhoff said.
The National Weather Service expressed alarm over the possibility of a major storm system reaching Arkansas on the night of the eclipse, and ADEM has conducted simulations of a range of worst-case scenarios, including attackers and extreme weather.

“There’s going to be an approaching storm system from the south and southwest and it will expand to the north throughout the day on Monday and continue again through the overnight hours Monday night. Accompanying that storm system is the potential for some chance for rain and thunderstorms…and unfortunately this round looks like there could be some severe weather possible as well,” said Jeff Hood, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Little Rock office.
And it might be disastrous given that the state receives an estimated 1.5 million visitors annually.

“With so many people in the state and so many people outside and in different locations away from their home, there’s definitely a level of concern that we want people to be aware of that threat throughout the day and into the overnight hours,” Hood cautioned.

As April 8 draws near, ADEM says it is confident in its extensive preparations despite the unprecedented hurdles.

According to ADEM, its last eclipse planning meeting with partners in the public and business sectors will take place on Thursday.

Visit for further resources and information about the eclipse and how to be ready. See the eclipse event viewer provided by ADEM for a list of eclipse events.


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