Darke County preparing for 2024 total eclipse


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — Mark your calendars now for Monday, April 8. A swath of the United States will be inundated with people stretching from Texas through the New England states and Darke County will be directly in the path of totality for the solar eclipse. People in Darke County will begin looking up at the sky at approximately 2 p.m. and at 3:08 p.m., those gathered in our community will experience something that hasn’t been experienced since 1806 and won’t be experienced again until 2099 – a total solar eclipse. With a little over 300 days remaining until the once in a lifetime event, agencies across Darke County are preparing now. The local community’s events have been labeled Darke Side of the Moon.

While one might think the Darke County Visitors Bureau, Main Street Greenville and other tourist attractions would be taking center stage for this event, you would be correct, but there will be a lot more going into this than planning for fun events trying to attract visitors from across the world.

The Darke County Emergency Management Agency has taken the lead on preparing for the eclipse and are working with a host of agencies, including law enforcement, coroner’s office, Darke County Health Department, Ohio Department of Transportation, fire and EMS departments, villages and the City of Greenville to name a few agencies that will be involved.

It is their hope to be over prepared.

Sheriff Mark Whittaker explained that Darke County is used to bringing in 30,000 to 50,000 people to the county, but they are usually heading to one of two places, Eldora Speedway or the Darke County Fairgrounds, and law enforcement knows how to get people headed in the right direction to get to the highways. With the possibility of this many people coming into the county and spreading out the length of the county, there could possibly be some issues.

Ken Johnson, with Darke County EMA, shared some of the issues other locations have had in the past. Traffic before and especially immediately after was always higher and caused significant delays. The county is also aware that an influx of people could slow mobile internet making it difficult for people to call or text. For the Sheriff’s Department, slow mobile internet could have a disastarous effect. Deputies depend on mobile internet for research and obtaining information on calls. By planning now, they will be able to have a backup plan.

There is also a possibility that demand on the internet and mobile internet could cause issues with local store owners. Johnson urges businesses to carry more cash that day because of possible issues with credit card machines. Because cash may be important, there is also a possibility that ATMs could be drained.

The Darke County Health Department is also beginning its work and is in the process of establishing rules for temporary campgrounds. Because there are limited hotels and camping sites available, Jordan Francis, health commissioner, is concerned people will open up their fields to campers without notifying his office. To keep this from happening, the health department is considering waiving fees for landowners wanting to host campers. Knowing where the temporary campsites are located will help all first responders if there is an issue.

If Darke County does get an influx of people, a lot are expected to begin arriving on Friday or Saturday and experience what the local community has to offer. Johnson is urging people to come early and stay late to avoid traffic.

The Darke County Visitors Bureau has already set up page on its website to announce events that will be planned for that day, as well as providing necessary information. Visit www.visitdarkecounty.org. A Facebook page has also been set up – https://www.facebook.com/Darke-Side-of-the-Moon-116775774720287.

Keep watching the Daily Advocate/The Early Bird for more information on the 2024 total solar eclipse.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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