State website helps small communities prepare for eclipse

They will be coming by the thousands this summer to see the solar eclipse.

The Idaho Department of Commerce is expecting anywhere from half a million to a million people to flock to the Gem State for this summer's total solar eclipse.

"This is a unique event. Once in a lifetime. It won't happen again in Idaho for 152 years," Idaho Department of Commerce Director Megan Ronk said.

Ronk says the Department of Commerce is currently working with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, law enforcement agencies, and hospitals to ensure that they're prepared for the eclipse.

"We want to make sure that both visitors are prepared, but also our emergency services are well prepared if people run into trouble," Ronk said.

Some of the best viewing areas in the Gem State are in remote and rural locations such as Weiser, Garden Valley and Stanley. Small towns that could see their populations quadruple for that one weekend in August. The Department of Commerce has launched a website to help accommodate and inform not only visitors, but also those towns thrust into the international spotlight.

MORE: Thousands expected to flock to Weiser for summer eclipse

"Having a one-stop shop for visitors as they're trying to decide where they want to go in that path of totality, that they got that information in one place," Ronk said.

One of those communities in the heart of the path is Garden Valley and Crouch. The area, which has about a thousand yearly residents, is expecting to grow to nearly 10,000 for that one weekend.

“The eclipse is going to be larger than anything we’ve seen here,” Jason Sawin, who’s on the Garden Valley Solar Eclipse Planning Committee, said.

Five-hundred hotel rooms, cabins, campsites, bed and breakfast rooms have already started to fill up fast in the town of Crouch. Diane Caughlin, the owner of Uncle Billy Bobs Redneck Trailer Vacation Rentals, started getting calls about August 21, 2017 about a year ago.

“It was like probably within a three-week period where they all booked,” Caughlin said.

Today, all that remains available in Crouch are several dry (no running water or electricity) camping spots at Idaho X-Sports.

“We have visitors coming from all around the world here. I've heard Russia, Europe, Japan,” Sawin said.

Visitors from all over the world who are flocking to this little town just to grab a glimpse of a once in a lifetime event.

“Our resources will be tapped. We do not have enough restaurants. We have one little market here,” Sawin said.

To help address some of those concerns, the committee will be establishing a number of locations where people can come and watch the eclipse. People will soon be able to reserve those spots online, which will help give the city an idea of just what to expect.

“We have multiple sites here in the valley that can hold 500 people to maybe 5,000 people; and be able to park everybody and get them off the roads into a safe area,” Sawin said.

RELATED: 30 campsites in path of solar eclipse to be auctioned off

However, roads also pose an issue for many travelers. This as the only way to get to either Crouch or Stanley is on a two-lane highway.

“The biggest thing that we believe is that if you leave Boise at 6 a.m., which normally would be just a little over an hour drive up here, that you may not make it in time for the eclipse,” Sawin said.

Sawin recommends that if you’re not familiar with Garden Valley, you come up this summer to get an idea of what to expect.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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