Disaster Zone

Solar Eclipse — A Big Earthquake Drill

The eclipse is the biggest non-disaster event of many a career.

by Eric Holdeman / August 20, 2017

Most of the time we mark our careers and the high or some may say, "low," points by the disasters that we have responded to. In the case of the solar eclipse that is coming on Monday, it will likely be the big daddy of all non-disaster events many an emergency manager is involved in. Tens of thousands of people are planning to be in the path of the eclipse and all the resulting issues that come with people being crammed into too little space will come to light. 

  • Traffic jams for sure
  • Medical emergencies 
  • Crime of all sorts
  • Potentially violent crime coming from raised tempers
  • Perhaps a weather event impacting the entire mess that will be this event

At a minimum, the planning for the eclipse caused many jurisdictions and regions to come together to do the necessary planning. Hopefully that included at least one tabletop to walk through different scenarios that might be imagined. The relationships built via this planning process will stand them in good stead in the coming months and years as long as the same people remain in place.

I'd like to add that in some cases, states like Idaho, Oregon and Washington will have regions of their states experience what I think will happen when there is a huge Cascadia Fault earthquake. As noted in an earlier blog post and Op-ed in the Seattle Times, there will be a spontaneous evacuation of the western areas of the coastal states and those people will head "due east" to the areas now gearing up for the solar eclipse. 

Therefore, all this planning for an influx of people and the practice that will come from the solar eclipse might be a good thing. A real-life drill for what can happen in the future.