National Guard to provide HAZMAT response during total solar eclipse

It’s not long now until the 2024 total solar eclipse and weather permitting it should be a spectacular celestial event. As exciting as it is, there are a number of security concerns, especially in the parts of the US that will be on the path of totality, with some now announcing the deployment of the National Guard.

The 2017 total solar eclipse, as beautiful as it was, occurred during solar minimum, the part of the sun’s 11-year cycle when activity is minimal. This year’s solar eclipse coincides with solar maximum, which means we should not only get a glorious corona, but also streamers and prominences, bright, pink swirls or loops coming from the sun.

While the main priority for eclipse viewers should of course be protecting their eyes, there have been a number of warnings in recent weeks from emergency services to stock up on water, food and fuel ahead of the eclipse, as well as from some schools in the neighbourhood. of the totality is advised to close.

These warnings are not due to the eclipse itself, but to the influx of tourists that comes with it, and putting pressure on transport, emergency and mobile phone infrastructure that is not designed to handle such a large number of people can process.

At the request of the McCurtain County Emergency Management team from Oklahoma, the Oklahoma National Guard will also be called in to assist with any potential issues.

“McCurtain County Emergency Management has requested our support as they anticipate up to 100,000 additional people will visit their communities to view the eclipse,” Lt. Col. Jabonn Flurry, 63rd CST commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, said in a statement.

“This influx of visitors has the potential to overwhelm local resources and thanks to the training and experience our Guardsmen have working with local agencies throughout Oklahoma, the CST is uniquely qualified to support our fellow Oklahomans.”

Oklahoma’s warden will respond to hazardous materials (HAZMAT) during the eclipse, such as responding to industrial fires and easing the burden on local first responders.

There are people online who claim this is an overreaction along the lines of: “We didn’t have these kinds of warnings in 2017/any previous eclipse and everything was fine!” to which the answer is: yes, we did, and no, we didn’t. Prior to the 2017 solar eclipse, the local government had planned an increase in visitors, but traffic congestion was still a problem.

“The millions of people drawn to locations along the eclipse path taxed limited transportation facilities, and traffic congestion was intense in many locations,” transportation engineer Jonathan Upchurch explained in Transportation Research News.

“Across the country, interstate highways near the path of totality experienced traffic congestion shortly after the eclipse, with longer-than-normal travel times on interstate highways. For example, travel from Casper, Wyoming, to Denver, Colorado – normally a 4-1 one-hour trip – took 10 hours or more. Traffic congestion on rural interstate routes lasted until 13 hours after the eclipse.

Plus, there were warnings before the 2017 solar eclipse, even though you may have missed them. Plus, they were effective, so it makes sense that officials would use them ahead of this year’s solar eclipse.

“The data showed that Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming had the largest traffic increases on the day of the solar eclipse compared to other states,” explains an article on traffic management during the 2017 solar eclipse.

“Interestingly, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri had reduced daily traffic. One reason could be transportation agencies’ advice for people to reduce their shopping during eclipse week.”

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