My name is Rich Ochs, and I am the Coordinator for Teton County Emergency Management. With only six days to go until the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, we are transitioning from the planning phase to the execution phase to do our best as local, state, and federal governments to make sure that residents and visitors alike are safe and have fun during this unique and special event.
#SAFETY ALERT: Click here to find out how to verify your eclipse glasses are legit.
It has been truly awe-inspiring over the past two years to watch as our community has come together to support the Eclipse effort. From agencies around Wyoming sending first responders to voluntary organizations providing food and shelter for our emergency workers to local businesses altering their operations to help relieve traffic on area roads, this is truly a whole-community event. I have never been more proud to serve Teton County than I have in preparation for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.
But we aren’t done yet. A critical component of our overall community preparedness, be it for a major special event like the Eclipse or a major disaster, is individual and family preparedness. You are the bedrock of our community’s resiliency and how well we can adapt and react to a dynamic and unknown event like the Total Solar Eclipse.
Here are some things that you as an individual or family should be doing right now in preparation for August 21st:
- Know where to get information. We will use Nixle for public safety messaging, but if you want regular updates on non-emergency issues like traffic, non-severe weather, and overall eclipse info, follow the Town/County Eclipse social media handle @tetoneclipse on Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit www.tetoneclipse.com for more info. The County will also have a toll-free info line at 866-221-6441 that will be active from Friday 8/18 to Monday 8/21. See the attached press release for more info on that.
- Cell phone networks may get overloaded causing disruptions or degradations in service. Have a backup plan such as a landline to use in emergencies, or know which neighbors have a landline. Also have a family communications plan and emergency meeting place should you get separated and be unable to call one another. One great tip is to pick an out-of-town family member that everyone calls to check in with should an emergency occur and you are separated (use someone from out-of-town since long-distance phone circuits are different than local phone circuits, which typically get overloaded during a crisis). Also remember that when cell networks are overloaded, you have a better chance of sending a text message than making a voice phone call.
- Stock up now. Have enough food and water to last you, your family, and your pets for at least three days. Also top off fuel tanks and have extra cash on hand in the event of a power outage or if cellular networks impact the ability of businesses to take credit cards. This is more a matter of convenience than survival; lines are going to be long, and if we can lessen the last-minute rush on grocery stores, gas stations, and banks that is likely to occur with all the visitors in town it will make for a better experience for everyone.
The best part is, these tips are what Emergency Management would like households across Teton County to do every day in preparation for an emergency. Although preparing for the Eclipse event is more a matter of convenience, these same simple steps will keep you and your family prepared for an earthquake, flood, or wildfire if you keep them up year-round. Visit www.ready.gov for some great preparedness advice and planning templates.
Finally, I would like for us all to remember to be patient. This may be a trying time with long lines, crowded pathways, and traffic snarls. This is going to be an extension of what is already a busy summer season for locals. People that are coming to our community have paid a lot of money and travelled long distances to come here to experience this amazing astronomical event when they could have chosen to go to any one of hundreds of other cities on the path across the United States. They picked Jackson Hole for a reason; likely the same reason that we have picked it to be our home. It is a special place, and they want to experience a special event here. Let’s show the world how great our community is by offering some western hospitality and helpful advice to these umbraphiles as we all experience the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse together.
Rich Ochs, Coordinator
Teton County Emergency Management