CBS Local — Americans across the U.S. will see the country’s first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in 99 years. While millions of people get ready to watch the Aug. 21 eclipse, local authorities are the treating the event more like a natural disaster and are preparing for the worst.
The disaster prep work stems from the massive tourist attraction the solar eclipse has become. The eclipse’s path of totality, where the moon will almost completely block the sun, covers a 70-mile-wide lane that will cut across 12 states from Oregon to South Carolina. There are an estimated 12 million people in the eclipse’s path.
According to greatamericaneclipse.com, another 1.8 to 7.4-million people will travel into the path on Aug. 21. Several small towns and less populated states are preparing to see their populations double or even triple in the week leading up to the solar event.
Several counties in Idaho and Oregon have already issued emergency declarations. Local officials are citing increased public safety risks, financial damage, and excess costs of cleanup and property damage for the alerts.
On the East Coast, officials in South Carolina are reportedly stocking up on bottled water and port-a-potty services to prepare for the influx of tourists. The Red Cross is also setting up emergency shelters in the 12 affected states to help with possible emergencies that may overwhelm local governments.