Towns County, GA – Towns County officials are advising residents to prepare for the August 21 total solar eclipse as they would an approaching blizzard or ice storm.
Fire Chief Harold Copeland, E-911 Director Marty Roberts, Sheriff Chris Clinton, Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Emergency Management Deputy Director Brandon Walls met with local and state authorities on Tuesday, August 8, to discuss the highly anticipated event.
Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw assures the community that all agencies are working closely together to prepare as thoroughly as possible. They are by no means “taking it lightly.”
The expected number of visitors in our area is difficult to predict, but the potential for “gridlock” exists.
Officials encourage residents to stock up on food, water and gasoline well in advance.
Necessary prescription medications should be obtained beforehand.
Cellular communication is expected to be overloaded and unavailable during the event.
The resounding advice from authorities is to remain at home and travel only if absolutely necessary.
Towns County School and Daycare will be closed a full day on Monday, August 21.
The County Courthouse will close at 11:30 a.m.
Towns County Emergency Management Agency has requested assistance from state agencies and the Emergency Operations Center will coordinate with the state EOC. Home health agencies will be on standby to provide rapid assistance to patients if needed.
Towns County Fire and Rescue trucks will be fully manned and strategically staged throughout the county. A rescue boat will be staffed during the event and Coast Guard auxiliary units will patrol Lake Chatuge.
There is an agreement with Union County to provide overlapping coverage and mutual aid assistance if needed.
Towns County EMS will also place an additional ambulance in service and provide another with crew on call.
Towns County Sheriff’s Office will be fully staffed during the event and has requested assistance from local and state agencies with law enforcement and public safety concerns.
Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office reminds citizens and visitors that camping is not allowed on Bell Mountain and a limited amount of vehicles will be permitted to view the eclipse from the summit on a first come, first serve basis. Parking is limited to 46-48 vehicles.
Hiawassee Police Department will have extra officers on duty. Law enforcement requests the public refrains from parking at McConnell Baptist Church. The parking lot will be used in an emergency situation should Chatuge Regional Hospital’s lot overflow. The church will also be utilized as an emergency shelter if needed.
Georgia State Patrol will have additional troopers in the area to assist local agencies.
Aviation assets will remain on standby.
Young Harris College classes are cancelled the day of the eclipse. Extra police officers will be on duty. The college requests that the public refrains from traveling upon the campus. All events at the college are limited to students, faculty and staff.
Towns County 911 will have extra dispatchers on duty and additional 911 lines will be installed prior to the event. Radio maintenance personnel will be on standby to quickly respond to communication issues. E-911 asks citizens to avoid parking on the gravel road that leads to the radio towers on Bell Mountain. If access is necessary, vehicles parked in this area will be towed at the owner’s expense.
Towns County 911 requests the public limits calls to emergency situations only. Citizens should understand the possibility exists of 911 lines becoming overwhelmed at any given time. Overflow calls may be directed to a neighboring county as per existing protocol.
Ham radio operators will remain on standby to assist county agencies with communications in an emergency situation.
The Department of Natural Resources will assign additional officers to Towns County. Helicopters will be staged in Union and Rabun counties to assist as needed.
The United States Forest Service reminds residents and visitors that only ticket holders will be permitted on Brasstown Bald. Forest Service law enforcement officers will be assigned to the area for security and additional personnel will be staged at key locations.
Georgia Department of Transportation crews will refrain from road work in the area, but will remain on standby to assist local agencies or respond to emergency situations.
Chatuge Regional Hospital will provide extra staff in the emergency department throughout the event. The hospital has requested citizens and visitors refrain from parking at their facility unless visiting for medical related purposes.
Citizens and visitors will be permitted to park at the Recreation Center free of charge, but are asked to keep off the ball fields.
Parking will be available at Towns County School for a fee. The amount has not yet been determined.
A deputy will be on site to provide security.
E-911 has requested these additional phone numbers be made available to the public:
The Sheriff’s Office and the Emergency Management Agency will post on their Facebook pages during the event to keep the public aware of developments.
A representative from Choose Energy, a Texas based company, reached out to Fetch Your News and provided information on how the solar power grid may be affected.
Follow Fetch Your News for further information and real time updates on the approaching phenomenon.