Ohio Emergency Operations Center Activated in Advance of Eclipse

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday that he is activating the Ohio Emergency Operations Center to support local communities before, during and after Monday’s solar eclipse, which could draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the state.

“There is no better place to experience the eclipse than in Ohio, the birthplace of aviation and the heart of aerospace,” DeWine said. “While we are confident that our local communities have fully prepared for the influx of spectators, having our Emergency Operations Center at the ready will allow us to immediately respond if any unexpected needs arise.”

Beginning Sunday, staff members from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Adjutant General’s Department, Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of transportation, natural resources, administrative services and job and family services will assemble at the EOC in Columbus to organize resources for local partners who request support.

The EOC activation follows the executive order issued by DeWine last month that directed all state departments and agencies to be prepared to support local communities during the eclipse. Ohio EMA has been coordinating with state, local and private partners to prepare for increased demands on gas, food, shelter, traffic and cellphone service since 2021.

“We usually don’t have this much notice for a large-scale event, but the eclipse has been hundreds of years in the making, so that helped make our jobs a little easier,” said Sima Merick, director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. “Our EOC teams will be watching traffic cameras, weather radar, and monitoring local needs through contact with our county partners, and we stand ready to provide resources as needed.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol will increase staffing levels and activate its aviation unit to enhance traffic safety services and emergency response on Ohio’s highways. Troopers will be available to support local law enforcement agencies on request and will be ready to assist motorists in the days leading up to and after the eclipse. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will also increase its law enforcement staffing levels at its 23 state parks and five wildlife areas that are in or near the path of totality. 

The Ohio Department of Transportation will be fully staffed Monday to assist with traffic control and adjust traffic signal timing near popular viewing areas as needed. The Ohio Turnpike’s toll booths, service plazas and maintenance buildings will also be fully staffed, and the turnpike will be monitored by tow truck operators to provide roadside assistance to stranded motorists. Portable message signs will be placed at various locations to keep travelers informed about traffic incidents and driving conditions. 

General Information and Tips for Ohioans and Visitors

  • Motorists are encouraged to dial #677 to report unsafe drivers or stranded motorists. In the event of an emergency, dial 911.
  • Drivers should plan their routes and viewing locations in advance. More than 1,000 live traffic cameras, real-time speeds, traffic alerts and work zone information are available at OHGO.com and on the OHGO app
  • Stopping on the side of highways or exit ramps for non-emergencies is prohibited.
  • Looking at the sun while driving is discouraged, and using a mobile device to capture the eclipse while driving is in violation of Ohio’s distracted driving law.
  • Travelers are encouraged to make a preparedness kit for their vehicles and include items such as snacks, drinks, cash, cellphone chargers and blankets.
  • Motorists should top off their fuel tanks or fully charge their electric vehicles before traveling.
  • Families should develop a communication plan to ensure family members know how to reconnect if separated at a large gathering. Children should have contact information for parents or guardians with them.
  • Travelers are encouraged to be aware of weather conditions and where to seek shelter in the event of severe weather. Emergency alert features should be activated on mobile devices.
  • TourismOhio has launched a website with information about special events and attractions surrounding the eclipse. 

Pictured at top: The Ohio Emergency Operations Center in Columbus. (Facebook | Ohio Emergency Management Agency)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.