GREENVILLE—The Darke County 2024 Eclipse Task Force met on Tuesday afternoon at the Birchwood Training Facility to discuss next year’s one-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse.
The path of our next total solar eclipse will enter Ohio, through Darke County on Monday April 8, 2024. After this eclipse, the next total solar eclipse to touch the United States until 2044, and won’t touch our area again until 2099.
The actual eclipse will start in Greenville at 2 p.m., and the totality will start at 3:08 p.m.
The entire totality of the eclipse will last about four minutes.
Ken Johnson, Deputy Director of the Darke County Emergency Management Agency, led the meeting.
Leaders within Darke County EMS, law enforcement, politics, healthcare and entertainment & leisure were present.
The task force shared that they believe Darke County will be effected by the eclipse from Thursday to Tuesday that week.
Johnson discussed the major issues during his presentation.
The first issue he mentioned was an increase in traffic.
“Previous events, they didn’t much congestion leading up to the totality,” he said. “The hours immediately following it, we’ve seen an example where most every interstate passing through the path was red on Google Maps, which is about four states.”
He added that to combat the issue, they are suggesting travelers come early and stay late.
Another issue the county will face is with communication. Due to the increase in population for the weekend, Johnson said they believe there may be issues with wifi, credit cards and cell phones.
This could potentially cause issues with the public being able to place 911 calls, or use mapping apps on their smart phones.
To mitigate the mapping issue, he said some public information entities are suggesting people keep hard copy maps just in case of a connection issue.
He suggested travelers and businesses keep cash on them throughout the weekend in case of any ATM issues.
Darke County EMA and additional EMS/law enforcement agencies in the county are planning to utilize HAM radio for backup communications for the event.
“We’ve already started working with them [HAM radio operators],” he said. “We will look at some plans at how they can help us throughout the county.”
Lastly, he said the county could face logistic/resource issues.
“Assuming that most places will still be open on Monday, you may have issues with staff coming in to work,” Johnson said. “There could be possible food and fuel shortages, or long lines.”
As we get closer to the event, he suggested gas stations carry extra fuel on hand to mitigate issues, as well as citizens keep their tanks full as we near the eclipse.
At the end of the event, Johnson reminded the group that they are preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best.
“Please keep in mind, we are preparing for something that could happen, and will happen on some level, but may not be as significant as we plan for,” he said.
The Darke County 2024 Eclipse Task Force will continue to meet periodically over the next 327 days until the event to plan for the once-in-a-lifetime event.
For more information on the eclipse, go to darkecountyema.org.