FRANKFORT — On Monday, Kentucky transformed into the center of global attention as people from all over the world converged on the western part of the state to experience the 100-year eclipse. Although the total solar eclipse lasted only a few minutes, preparing for the event was a solid year in the making for many, including the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KDEM).
With the help of the Governor’s office, federal, state and private agencies, as well as local officials around the state, Kentucky’s handling of an influx of in-state and out-of-state tourists, amateur and professional astronomers, photographers, artists and people from all walks of life was carefully orchestrated and coordinated to make the occasion safe, seamless, and unforgettable.
As members of the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee, we were briefed on the many components that went into making the eclipse the incredible success it was. Traffic and crowd control, towing services, bus transportation, signage, firefighting, shelters, portable toilets, Medevac, food vendors, HazMat, and EMS are just a handful of the areas that had to be addressed to handle the tremendous amount of people visiting small cities and towns across the western part of the Commonwealth. Without great collaboration from multiple groups, the solar eclipse could not have been enjoyed by so many people here in Kentucky.
We can’t discuss the success of the solar eclipse without mentioning Hopkinsville, or Eclipseville, as it was called in anticipation of the 100 percent eclipse that occurred within that exact location. We can both personally attend, due to firsthand knowledge, that the small town of approximately 32,000 people was transformed to accommodate over 200,000 visitors from all over the world.
Although traffic was understandably slow due to the huge volume of visitors, there was very little crime and no violence to speak of. All in all, Kentucky did an outstanding job organizing an exceptional statewide affair.
On the heels of the historic solar eclipse, Michael Dossett, director of KDEM, the Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and all first responders deserve a special thank you for making it a fun, safe event for everyone.
In a time of considerable political turmoil and polarization, the solar eclipse in Kentucky was a prime example of coming together to bask in the awe of something greater than ourselves. As Kentuckians and guests watched the moon pass in front of the sun and blot out its light for a few brief moments, there was no us versus them. We were just members of the human race, enjoying one of the greatest shows on Earth.