Emergency Operations Center open as part of state's eclipse plan
JEFFERSON CITY – In preparation for a large number of visitors to Missouri for Monday's solar eclipse, the State Emergency Operations Center opened Friday and will remain open through Tuesday, August 22nd.
Missouri Department of Public Safety Communications Director Mike O'Connell said the center is a way to better coordinate emergency responses. "It's a place that all of the different agencies, those that deal with traffic, law enforcement, fire fighting, EMS, utilities, all are in the same room, and they can all share the same information and work as one team to solve the problems and get the resources where they need to be."
Missouri’s emergency managers and response agencies have planned for the eclipse for several weeks. Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden said past events in Missouri have helped prepare for the eclipse. "This will be a unique event, but we're utilizing the experience gained from other major events that bring in large numbers of people, increased traffic and that have the potential to tax local resources." “Preplanning and coordination with our state and local partners have been essential, and strong communication throughout the event period will continue."
O'Connell said the city is doing its part to keep the traffic congestion down. "State government and even businesses and local governments have been making efforts to reduce traffic, so in the Capitol city on Monday employees have administrative leave if they're not essential employees so that'll reduce traffic and free up parking downtown for visitors."
The city is also changing trash collections schedules, deliveries and work schedules so the roadways are clear.
O'Connell gave a few tips for spectators on the day of the eclipse. "What we do know is there is going to be increased traffic and that if people plan ahead, leave early, give extra time, pay attention, and then enjoy the event, and then don't rush back into traffic afterwards, that's going to be the best way to reduce traffic and congestion and headaches,” he said.
The state of Missouri could see anywhere from 50,000 to 400,000 visitors for the once in a lifetime experience.
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