Right before our eyes: Regional planning effort provides ability to anticipate problems on eclipse day

This shot was captured in McKean County.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The idiom applied to regional emergency planning efforts undertaken during Monday’s solar eclipse.

Officials from Warren, Crawford, Erie and Chautauqua counties were patched together in a joint, virtual emergency operations center.

Warren County Public Safety Director Ken McCorrison said that included access to Pennsylvania and New York interstate traffic cameras.

“Typically, we would have no idea,” he said. “Our concern all along has been vehicular traffic.”

Photos courtesy of Warren County Visitors Bureau Crowds get a glimpse of darkness at Miracle Mountain.

An additional benefit is the ability to have “decision makers in the room,” he said.

Who does that include? Public safety officials. High-level representatives from the major cell phone companies. PennDOT District 1 management, health care officials and, among others, a liaison to the Pennsylvania State Police.

“It’s that preemptive situational awareness for what’s going on in our region and around us,” McCorrison said. “It gives us the ability to head off problems before they become problems.”

Locally, McCorrison said that law enforcement and EmergyCare have increased their staffing.

Traffic is focused on the US 6 and Rt. 62 corridor and he said that City of Warren police are prepared to implement Fourth of July traffic patterns.

Photos courtesy of Warren County Visitors Bureau Crowds get a glimpse of darkness at Miracle Mountain.

“The city would be your bottleneck,” he said, indicating he’s been communicating with the county’s police chiefs throughout the weekend with traffic reports from officers on patrol.

The planning process has resulted in some schedule-shifting but has been done at a minimal overall cost.

And there are benefits even if doomsday, gridlock traffic patterns don’t come to fruition.

“It’s a really good exercise,” McCorrison said. “It’s a good training exercise for what would happen…. We’ve proven this link is an effective way to communicate without leaving our offices.

“It’s a really good test of all our different technologies…. It’s got everybody thinking. We can get to a decision maker. That’s what this is all about.”

During the eclipse, crowds attended an event at Miracle Mountain that was hosted by the Warren County Visitors Bureau. There, skies cooperated and crows were going crazy around 3:20 p.m. when it was dark.

To the east, cloud coverage made the eclipse hard to view on Monday afternoon from the Crook Farm Homestead in Bradford, Pa., McKean County. Approximately 30 folks came with their eclipse glasses, folding chairs and blankets in preparation to wait for the eclipse.

Daniella Langianese contributed to this report.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today