Safety first: Organizers make plans for eclipse visitors

October, 2017 Posted in Community, Nature, Other

By Mary Owen

Agencies throughout Marion County are taking steps to keep people safe through the weekend of the Great American Eclipse.

“Our Focus with River Fusion 22 is on the positive economic impact for our local businesses and organizations that an influx of visitors will provide and the engaging experiences we are planning for visitors,” said Allison McKenzie, executive director of GROW-EDC.

“With such thorough plans for all kinds of contingencies from our public safety officials, I feel confident that we can count on them to handle any major problems that may arise while we focus on the fun.”

River Fusion 22 is a coordinated effort designed to promote tourism throughout the North Santiam River Country.   

“We didn’t have this a year ago, and now we are finishing the details for launching our first multi-day, multi-location festival,” McKenzie said. “I am truly impressed with the planning that is going into creating wonderful events for our visitors, and with the hours and brain power so many volunteers are putting into River Fusion 22.”

Putting safety measures in place is a major step in assuring a positive experience for visitors and residents, McKenzie said.

“When people feel safe, they can have more fun, and that is what we want our visitors to experience.”

Santiam Hospital plans to have staff “basically live onsite for the duration so they can ensure that they have plenty of healthcare staff available in the event they’re needed,” McKenzie said.

“Ed Flick from the Office of Emergency Management in Marion County is also very well organized, as is the county’s Sheriff Office,” she added.

“Provisions are being made to be able to respond to accidents, folks who may need help up in the forests, and any potential forest fires that we hope don’t erupt.”

Grady McMahan, district ranger with the Detroit Ranger District is taking steps to meet the extra demands on forestry campsites and the possibility of heavily congested roads up and down the Santiam Canyon.

“We are coordinating with our local emergency service providers, as well as providing extra office hours and staff in the woods to make this a safe and enjoyable event,” McMahan said. “Be prepared to share the woods with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts.”

Camp Taloali will have a nursing station open, adding another link to the healthcare/emergency response staging areas along Hwy 22. The camp also has a large field that can be utilized for a medical helicopter, if needed, and a water access point from the river.

GROW and other agencies officials suggest gassing up early and buying groceries before Aug. 17.

“Pick up any prescriptions early, too, and reschedule appointments that may fall on the 21st to a later date,” McKenzie suggested. “You’ll not only have the supplies you need for the weekend, keeping in mind that most stores won’t be restocking on Monday either, but it will help ease the stress on the gas stations and grocery stores that will be selling goods to visitors so there is plenty to go around.”

Other tips include:

Know where landlines are in your neighborhood in the event of a personal emergency. Cell phone coverage may be spotty or non-existent in certain areas of the North Santiam Canyon.

Get cash early for any transaction you may need to make.

Add food, water and other necessary supplies to your car; be prepared to share.

Use back roads to get around. Updated information is available by dialing 511 or visiting

Scope out your eclipse viewing spot early and make sure to get eclipse glasses; 10 seconds is all it takes for permanent, irrepairable eye damage.

Be patient when out and about and be kind to others.

“We will have a lot of people in our area who are not from Oregon, and it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate what a friendly place we are,” McKenzie said.

The city of Salem has initiated an eclipse website that lists up-to-date information from all participating agencies through its Marion County/City of Salem Joint Information Center/System. .

Marion County Emergency Management is focusing heavily on public information needs throughout the county. A link to Oregon Solar Eclipse Safety Tips assembled by the State Fire Marshal and other eclipse-related materials is available at

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