The Putnam County Local Emergency Planning Committee is continuing preparations for the Great American Eclipse. A complete solar eclipse has not occurred in Putnam County since 1478 and will not occur in this area again until 2566. Putnam County is located in a prime viewing area and as such we are expecting a large influx of visitors to our county and region to view the eclipse at one of the many locally registered events. For a full listing of local events, please check the website, VisitCookevilleTN.com/eclipse. Local emergency officials are making plans to keep our residents and visitors safe so that all may enjoy this once in a lifetime event.
According to Chamber of Commerce officials, local hotels are at capacity for Sunday night, August 20 and many are near capacity for Saturday evening, August 19. All local campgrounds are full as well. Emergency officials are expecting delays on major thoroughfares with increased traffic in all areas of Putnam County. TDOT officials will use large message boards to encourage visitors to not stop on the interstate or exit ramps. The Tennessee Highway Patrol will locate troopers every five miles on the interstates to maintain the best possible traffic flow. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and Cookeville Police Department will have an increased presence during the event. City and County officials are encouraging people traveling to one of the many local viewing events to remain patient and urge caution when traveling to and from the event.
In addition to increased traffic issues, emergency services officials are expecting issues with cellular and internet communications due to increased use during periods of the full eclipse. Emergency officials encourage residents to have all communications devices fully charged and have backup communications capabilities such as landline telephones or two-way radio communications available if possible. If alternative communication is unavailable, local radio and television stations will provide updates in cases of emergency.
Health officials want to remind everyone to use eclipse approved eyewear for viewing the eclipse. Approved eyewear will be imprinted with ISO 12312-2 on each pair of glasses. Officials encourage parents to supervise children during the totality of the event to ensure they utilize the proper eyewear.
As part of the preparation process, the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center will be staffed beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, August 21 until the traffic and any emergency responses return to a normal level for our community. Local EMS crews will staff additional crews in various parts of Putnam County to accommodate the anticipated increase in emergency response calls. During an activation of the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center, officials from all areas of local emergency response including police, fire, TDOT, EMS, 911, and regional health will be present to coordinate emergency responses.