City of Charleston: Solar eclipse safety, emergency plan to be released next week

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - By the end of next week City of Charleston officials hope to release a safety and emergency plan for August's solar eclipse, according to a city director.

Mark Wilbert, Director of Emergency Management, said several local and regional agencies have been meeting over the last seven weeks to put together a plan for Aug. 21.

According to the Great American Eclipse, Charleston will be in the totality zone as of 2:46 p.m.

"We're really encouraging people to use the open space that the city has," Wilbert said. "We have over 100 parks, so we have lots of room. We're encouraging our citizens, as much as they can, to stay off the roads that day."

Traffic is a major concern officials have addressed.

At this time, there are no reported road closures, but Wilbert and others are asking eclipse goers to pack their patience.

"We're all in this together, and it's important that people realize it's going to be challenging after the event and moving around," he said. "Patience is going to be important."

Charleston County Government has put a list together of different events being held around the County on Eclipse day. Multiple groups, like The Bend along Azalea Drive, are trying to attract people to their open spaces with unique offerings.

"We have a real family and educational focus here at the site," said Site Director Chet Morse. "Boeing is a huge component of that. They're bringing several demonstrations including a trebuchet, a catapult type device, to launch objects across the field. They're bringing a drone that's going to have a live feed attached to it."

"We're pretty excited that we have a free and educational STEM event for the kids that day," said Susan Pearlstine, owner of The Bend.

North Charleston Parks and Recreations has been working with The Bend to set up the event for August 21. According to Director Ed Barfield, a section of Azalea Drive will be blocked off between noon and 4 p.m. that day, and currently, the city is working on finding more parking in the area for the event.

Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission is also holding a number of events.

"We've got 11,000-acre park system, lots of open space… so we feel like if you want to get some of the best viewing opportunities you can come to our parks," said Director of Marketing Gina Ellis-Strother.

Two of the programs have already sold out at the Caw Caw Interpretive Center.

Ellis-Strother said there are still spots available for the SunShadow Yoga at the Mount Pleasant Pier from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

"Anyone who has done yoga at all levels are welcome to come out," she said.

While local groups continue to fine tune their events, locals remained focused on staying safe.

"As the moon transcends the sun, as it starts to leave, the sun starts to reappear," said Bill Macon, who works in Charleston. "As I understand it is the most critical time to be aware and not stare at it without any protection."

City officials are also working to bring in water buffalos to make sure people stay hydrated, but encourage people to bring their own water.

"We're all going to have command centers set up," Wilbert said. "We're going to have a command center inside the city. We know the County of Charleston will have one set up, we're pretty sure there will be a center set up to deal with issues on the water, maritime side."

Wilbert added those centers will be up and functioning by 8 a.m. on the 21st, but if necessary they do have people in place for Friday.

Some restrictions for the event include the city's public parking garages. Wilbert said the upper deck will be open for parking, but people will not be allowed to stay up there for the viewing.

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