Depoe Bay gearing up for August eclipse; city expecting thousands to visit the area

(KPTV/John Hendricks)

The countdown continues for the most anticipated celestial event in a long time: a total solar eclipse decades in the making.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to a small band stretching across the state of Oregon to watch in what’s being called the path of totality.

The first to see the eclipse will be the small coastal town of Depoe Bay which began talks about the eclipse three years ago.

Mayor Barbara Leff says over the last eight months city, county, state and federal leaders have been meeting regularly to plan as best they can for the event.

Leff says the biggest challenge is not knowing how many people to anticipate. Estimate range from several thousand people to hundreds of thousands.

“It’s an excited nervousness,” Leff said.

She adds they have been looking at every possible issue that may arise and how best to keep it from happening.

The city knows traffic on Highway 101 is going to be bad in the days surrounding August 21. But they are also anticipating hundreds of boaters who may try to use the small harbor to access the Pacific Ocean to watch the eclipse off shore.

Another issue is people who are not familiar with the dangers of the sea wall and climbing over it to the rocks below.

With heavy traffic on Hwy 101 the concern slower response times from first responders to help anyone in need.

“If the traffic is as heavy as everyone is expecting it could take an hour for a fire engine to get a mile,” Leff said.

The city is also telling those who live in Depoe Bay to be prepared as well. They sent out mailers to residents with tips on what to do. They are recommending residents shop for extra food, water, pet food and household supplies.

The city says with so many people in the area they could experience power/water shortages to gas stations running out of fuel. That’s why they are asking people to stock up and be prepared.

“We think the weekend, and Monday, that traffic is just going to be a bear,” Left said.

Local shop owners are preparing as well.

Alison Young who owns the Baywalk Cafe says she plans to condense her menu and will be open 72-hours straight to accommodate a lot of people expected.

“We are expecting in the tens of thousands to be here,” Young said.

Her biggest concern is one many along the coast have, simply running out of stuff.

“I’m really worried about running out of supplies like ice milk, you know, things like that,” Young said.

Those on the coast say they are going to break as ready as they can to watch history happen over the world’s smallest harbor.

“I think we will talk about this for decades to come,” Young said.

The Depoe Bay Fire Department has been hosting several talks about the eclipse and what to expect. Several more are planned. Each presentation begins at 7 p.m. at the Gleneden Beach Fire Station on Thursdays, April 20, May 18, June 15, July 27 and August 17.

For more information, people can contact the Depoe Bay Fire District at 541-764-2202, or instructor Kay Wyatt at

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