CROWD CONTROL: Organizers urged to plan ahead as county preps for eclipse crowds

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The Hancock County commissioners reviewed a plan on Monday to accommodate the thousands of people expected to visit the county for the Great North American Eclipse next spring.

In addressing the board, county engineer Gary Pool said the plan would help facilitate traffic and safety during the April 8 solar eclipse, which is expected to attract an estimated 27,000 visitors to Hancock County.

“We’re going to continue getting public feedback on the plan before officially adopting it by the end of the year,” said Pool, who has been meeting with local planning and public safety officials to prepare for the event.

The plan should help ensure a safe and successful day when thousands come to watch the eclipse, he said, which will completely block out the sun for roughly four minutes, turning day to night.

 Hancock County is within the coveted path of totality, the viewing area in which the moon completely eclipses the sun. Some “eclipse chasers” are known to travel the world to witness the celestial event.

Hancock County is within the coveted path of totality, the viewing area in which the moon completely eclipses the sun. Some “eclipse chasers” are known to travel the world to witness the celestial event.

Factor in the number of people willing to drive an hour or two, and Hancock County is set to see close to 30,000 visitors that day.

Pool said the county’s planning committee is using the impact on central Kentucky during the last total eclipse in 2017 As a basis for gauging how Hancock County will be impacted next year.

“We took the counties with similar populations as ours and used their metrics from 2017 to see how much of an impact we’ll see,” said Pool.

“Assuming we have a sunny day, we estimate we’ll see 27,000 people coming into the county,” which is roughly one third of Hancock County’s population of 80,000, he said.

Pool said the county’s eclipse plan is designed to facilitate traffic control and emergency services, and to keep tabs on the numerous events taking place throughout the county that day.

Those hosting an event beyond a simple gathering of family and friends are urged to secure a free permit through the Hancock County Tourism office when they become available next month, so local officials can know where large groups of people will be that day.

“We’re not here to make money on permits, but we do want to know where people are going to be that day, which will help us plan for our resources,” said Pool, who said police, fire and emergency medical services will be positioned throughout the county that day.

“Events hosting 500 people or more should have a first aid or medical center on site in case of an accident. It will be challenging to move around the roads, so we want to make sure we can treat first aid on site and leave the ambulances for more pressing medical care,” he said.

Pool also said event organizers should plan to have a security guard and a bathroom or portalet for at least every 200 people.

Securing permits and amenities well ahead of the big day is essential, he said, especially when it comes to the county’s planning for emergency services.

By registering events with the Hancock County Tourism office, organizers can also spread the word about their events through the county’s tourism website.

“It’s all very exciting stuff,” said Pool.

Eclipse event permits will soon be available at EclipseinHancock.com.

For more information on the eclipse, visit Eclipse2024.org.