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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

City prepares for safety ahead of total solar eclipse

DJ Ross

San Marcos is gearing up for the total solar eclipse on April 8, as the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the sun between noon and 3 p.m.

A shadow will cast across North America, causing total darkness for areas in its path. San Marcos will experience a partial eclipse with 97-99% coverage of the sun according to a NASA article.

City of San Marcos Emergency Coordinator Rob Fitch expects there will be people traveling to cities near or in the path of totality which will bring an estimated 50,000 to 500,000 people through San Marcos.

“Our big concern is when everybody comes back out of Fredericksburg, Wimberley or Dripping Springs, that’s when we’re gonna have problems,” Fitch said. “It’s just like a big football game— right afterward, everybody’s trying to get out of town at the same time.”

Fitch said the emergency department recommends residents avoid leaving their house that Monday and instead go out the weekend before for anything they may need.

“We’re encouraging people not come to work if they can work from home and to make sure their vehicles are gassed up, because people will be stopping at the gas and charging stations,” Fitch said.

Hays County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Brayden Watson recommended mitigating unsafe situations before and after the eclipse, citing concerns about the influx of visitors potentially leading to hazardous road conditions.

“If you don’t need to be on the roads, don’t be, and if you are going to be on the roads, make sure to park in a legal area,” Watson said.

Watson said residents should have a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit, which has a three-day supply of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Watson also recommends stocking up on groceries the weekend before the eclipse to avoid travel the day of.

During an eclipse, looking directly at the sun can harm the observer’s eyes. The Hays County Office of Emergency Service (OES), city of San Marcos Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce strongly recommend avoiding looking up without the proper protective eyewear when watching this event.

According to Fitch, Hays County and San Marcos plan to put out road signs to direct traffic and inform motorists of closures or alternate routes. The Texas Department of Transportation and the city of San Marcos will have a pause on road construction and maintenance work on major corridors in the path of the eclipse.

“We’re not going to detour anybody around the city,” Fitch said. “We are going to keep all our roads open so people will have multitudes of exits when they do leave. The fire department and police will be working the regular schedule but with a few extra crews or officers in case of emergency.”

The county and city are also preparing tow trucks for standby. In case of roadside hazards, the Hays County OES are creating roadmaps of high-traffic areas for first responders and will put emergency information on the road signs, according to Watson.

According to Page Michel, president and chief executive officer of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, estimating traffic around businesses is difficult because a gridlock could stop circulation, but a doubled or tripled traffic flow could be possible as well.

According to the city’s website, businesses should plan ahead for potential Wi-Fi or cellular service disruptions during the eclipse due to communication infrastructure possibly being at or over capacity.

“If you are a business and your entire point of sale and checking out customers is all web-based, you should be prepared that afternoon to take cash, make change [and] to make sure servers and employees know how to take a credit card with non-electronic means,” Michel said.

Fitch said the San Marcos OEM has been actively preparing for the April 8 eclipse since the annual solar eclipse in October 2023, highlighting similarities in their preparation efforts for the eclipse and the upcoming presidential debate in September.

“The only difference is the city chose not to hold any events in San Marcos during the eclipse… for the debate, we’re working with the federal government, so it’s the same thing, but [the debate is] on a much bigger scale,” Fitch said.

Michel said because the promotion of this event began in October, hotels in San Marcos and surrounding areas have been booked for months.

For more information on the city of San Marcos’ arrangements for the eclipse, visit its website.

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