Red Cross, ODOT urge preparations, patience ahead of eclipse tra - KPTV - FOX 12

Total Solar Eclipse

Red Cross, ODOT urge preparations, patience ahead of eclipse travel

Posted: Updated:
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The highly-anticipated eclipse is just days away, and Oregon Department of Transportation and American Red Cross officials are urging travelers to plan ahead before heading to viewing destinations.

ODOT spokesman Dave Thompson told FOX 12 visitors are expected to come in phases, with some eclipse visitors already making their way onto Oregon roads Wednesday.

Thompson said ODOT expects the greatest volume of travelers on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with just over 10 percent if visitors expected to be traveling on Monday, though he warned that for drivers trying to get into the path of totality, saying, “It’s going to be too late by then.”

“We want you to plan ahead,” he said. “If you have not planned ahead, if you think you can just pop down to Salem from Portland on the morning of, that’s a mistake.”

For those heading to the coast, Thompson urged them to stay there even if it turns out to be cloudy Monday morning.

“You won’t make it to the Valley in time,” he explained.

State officials are planning for the worst-case scenario, with extra resources like ODOT road crews, emergency helicopters and firefighting equipment staged around the state. The National Guard will be assisting in efforts to keep roads open and flowing.

Thompson said patience will be key for travelers, who can expect it to take several hours longer than normal to reach destinations. Folks are encouraged to leave early for their trip, stay put once they arrive and then leave late to avoid the worst of the traffic.

Drivers should have a full tank of gas and have used the bathroom before taking off. Thompson also suggests that travelers, if possible, consider purchasing a small portable toilet, just in case.

Red Cross spokeswoman Monique Dugaw explained that she recommends a basic kit that drivers and families should keep in their cars which includes a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, medicines and blankets, among other basics.

She also suggested toiletry items, games to entertain children, essential medications, supplies for pets, extra chargers for personal electronics and a radio.

“I think our main message is, ‘Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best,’” Dugaw said.

Timing is also important, she explained, as some stores could be running low on items travelers would want to have with them by Sunday night. She also suggests those who plan on staying home also stock up if they live near the path’s totality, as it could be very difficult to get to stores. 

Anyone who is experiencing an emergency during the solar eclipse is still asked to call 911, but other questions about traffic, resources and travel information can be answered by staff working the special 211 hotline throughout the duration of the eclipse event.

The hotline launched Wednesday morning and can be used through next Wednesday. For more information on the 211 service, visit 211Info.org.

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