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Preparing for the eclipse: Volunteers needed

by Chelsea Harrison
Executive Director
Chamber of Commerce
for the Burns Times-Herald

A total solar eclipse will be crossing over Oregon Aug. 21. What does that mean?

According to NASA’s website, “Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights — a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere — the corona — can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, S.C.”

The closest point on the path of totality is just north of John Day. What does that mean for Harney County?

With the travelers on Hwy. 395 and Hwy. 20, we are going to be the gateway for those wanting to get the best vantage point. The estimated amount of visitors to be expected is one million within the state of Oregon, with one hundred thousand plus in Eastern Oregon. So, again, what does that mean for Harney County?

Local agencies, law enforcement, EMS, the health department, the county emergency manager, BLM, Forest Service, chamber of commerce, fire departments, and assorted interested local clubs have been meeting to discuss just that question.

What is the current question? The eclipse preparedness team is asking community members to educate themselves about  the impact magnitude of the eclipse. So, in turn, the community can help educate visitors about the fuel, food, and cell service limitations by being ambassadors.

We are also looking for volunteers to help man information centers throughout the county. We would like to have a few locations where visitors can gather this information during the weekend leading up to the eclipse on Monday. Please call the chamber at 541-573-2636 if you are interested in volunteering.

Community members are also being asked to watch the eclipse locally. In Burns, Hines and Crane, we will get a 98 percent total coverage, while the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will get a 97 percent total coverage. Frenchglen and Diamond will get 96 percent, and Fields will see 95 percent total coverage. So, no matter where you are within Harney County, it will still be a sight to see.

Some local groups are starting to organize activities. For example, the Farmers Market will be set up and open for more than just Saturday. Call the chamber if you would like to set something up or check the events page continuously for any updates as activities are being finalized.

Have fun. Experience. Be safe.

This is the second of a weekly series to run in the Burns Times-Herald for the total solar eclipse. Each week, guest writers will provide information to the community regarding what to expect over the next few months.

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