Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Coryell County to declare local disaster ahead of eclipse on April 8

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Coryell County will issue a Declaration of Local Disaster to prepare for the total solar eclipse that is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the area.

County Judge Roger Miller said the influx of people could put a strain on the county’s infrastructure, hospitals, and emergency response teams. The declaration is effective starting April 6, at 6 a.m. until April 13, at 6 a.m.

“The reason that we're issuing it is that I'm getting reports that we're going to have anywhere from 2,000 to 200,000 people come into Coryell County,” Miller said. “Between the county and the cities, we don't have those assets on hand to be able to respond to all the potential emergencies.”

A disaster declaration allows the county to coordinate with the Texas Division of Emergency Management if state assistance is needed regarding severe traffic, fuel shortages, and other emergencies.

“The issue is trying to protect our resources, because potentially we're going to have more people in Coryell County than we can respond to,” Miller said. 

Miller said the declaration includes precautions to mitigate potential risks, such as prohibiting outdoor burning on certain dates.

Since several parts of Central Texas are in the path of totality, the county expects a significant population increase on the days leading up to and following the eclipse on April 8. The declaration will also list recommendations on how residents can plan ahead, such as keeping additional food on hand, preparing for internet and cellular service outages, filling up gas tanks in vehicles, and avoiding unnecessary travel.

Miller announced the intent to issue the declaration at a commissioners’ court meeting on March 12. Other counties have also declared local disasters for the eclipse, including Bell County, Kerr County, Travis County, and Burnet County.

Coryell County offices will be closed on April 8. 

The Declaration of Local Disaster will be published on the Coryell County website: coryellcounty.org