Emergency responders to activate Emergency Operations Center for eclipse

Local emergency responders say they’ve never dealt with an event that’s getting as much national attention as the upcoming total solar eclipse. With up to 500,000 visitors expected in the area, emergency management agencies have been meeting for almost six months to organize a plan.

During another day of summer camp, Mellisa Duncan teaches kids at the Challenger Learning Center.

In a month, things won’t be so quiet. 

"The eclipse is exciting. It’s overwhelming. I just want it to get here," said Duncan, who is the Challenger Learning Center’s director. 

The center is hosting a viewing event for the eclipse, and it’s McCracken County’s only NASA designated viewing location.

"That is the $1 million question. We have no idea how many to expect," Duncan said.

It’s the same question emergency responders deal with as they map out their plans.

McCracken County Emergency Management Director Jerome Mansfield says local agencies will work together the day of the eclipse. Representatives from different agencies will be at the  McCracken County Emergency Operations Center to help the Paducah 911 center take phone calls, give the state’s emergency center updates, and communicate to first responders stationed around the county.

"This will be the group that makes decisions and help support people working in field," Mansfield said.

The Challenger Learning Center has also been working closely with agencies to make sure the event is patrolled.

"To finally stop for that two minutes and 22 seconds during totality, and look up see that totality and something I’ve never seen in my lifetime," Duncan said. She says all of the work will pay off.

Different agencies and venues will meet again Thursday morning at the Emergency Management Complex Center. That meeting will be followed by the meeting between emergency management and the Coast Guard.

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