Madras ups eclipse attendance estimate to 100,000

New website for eclipse announcements launches today

By Aaron West, The Bulletin

Madras officials now expect more than 100,000 people to come to town for organized solar eclipse-related events in August, according to a new attendance forecast on Wednesday that emphasized the thousands of local camping sites still available to the crowds.

Lysa Vattimo, who the city hired last year to oversee eclipse planning in Madras, went over the available camping space and the new attendance numbers — about a 25,000-person increase from the previous estimate — at a regular event planning meeting that took place Wednesday morning.

The city received state advice about adding temporary mobile cell towers and is considering an additional control tower at Madras Airport to handle the increase in air traffic during the celestial event.

And Mike Ryan, emergency manager for the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, said that a new informational website, created to keep people in Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes counties updated on official announcements about the eclipse, will officially launch to the public on Thursday.

Vattimo said she updated the city’s attendance forecast for the Aug. 21 eclipse based on new private events that have requested city permits. She said that while all state park camping sites have been reserved, there’s plenty of space at private sites being hosted by locals.

“Before we were lingering at around 75,000 people coming to Madras, but now we have more events,” she said, noting that she’s basing her estimate on how many campsites each event has available, not on how many tickets have been sold. The attendance numbers will change over time, she said, as private event planners update the city on how many tickets they’ve sold.

“Right now it’s like looking into a crystal ball,” she said.

Information on available camping sites can be found at www.madraseclispse.com .

More than 200,000 people are expected to visit the tricounty area, according to meeting discussion Wednesday, and more than 1 million people are expected to visit the state.

Ryan said Central Oregon’s law enforcement agencies are working together on solar eclipse management plans. A new website — www.coemergencyinfo.blogspot.com — has been created to keep the public informed.

“It allows emergency mangers or partner agencies to post something right away,” he said. “It’s a one stop shop for information.”

About 40 people attended the planning meeting in Madras, which takes place every month. Representatives from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the governor’s office attended the regular meeting for the first time since January.

“It’s good to see from a local level what the state is paying attention too and that they’re well connected with us,” Vattimo said. “It’s a way for us to connect and tell them ‘There’s a hole here, can you help us plug it?’”

As far as holes in planning go, Vattimo said not too much was identified at Wednesday’s meeting. She said that Erik Rau, emergency management planner for the state, helped point the city in the right direction for requesting temporary, mobile cell towers from cell phone companies for the weekend of the eclipse. An additional control tower for the Madras Airport is also being considered for the increased air traffic and communication need in the area, Vattimo said.

“Having (the state) in the same room is so beneficial,” she said. “Those kind of things, like the cellphone towers, bubble up to the top when you have these conversations and it helps us avoid the pitfalls of not knowing how certain systems work.”

Rau explained how the state can pitch in resources during emergency events. He emphasized how a local request for state resources typically works and said that the state government is planning for the entire state, not just Central Oregon.

“There’s been a lot of focus on the path of totality in Madras, but the entire state of Oregon will see some measure of the eclipse,” Rau said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,

awest@bendbulletin.com

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