Multiple law enforcement agencies are praying for patience and good fortune on Monday, the day of the total solar eclipse that will bring an estimated 53,000 drivers to a few North Georgia counties.
The Georgia Department of Transportation estimated the increase for Rabun, White, Habersham, Towns and Union counties, which may cause delays on highways Ga. 15 and Ga. 2.
One of the main concerns for Rabun County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Shane Watts is making sure motorists don’t park on the shoulder or impede the roadway.
“We will have people monitoring the crowds,” he said.
The other main concern will be cellphone service with the influx of people. Watts said cell-on-wheels units were requested, which would help boost service, but he was unsure if any would be in place Monday.
“We do know that we’ve had events in the past where there have been (5,000), (6,000), 7,000 people in one area and the phone calls didn’t work,” Watts said.
For public safety professionals, Watts said they have mobile command stations and will be “praying for the best.”
Watts said he has heard of people from across the U.S. and the globe already in town to watch the eclipse.
Because schools are closed Monday in Habersham County, Sheriff Joey Terrell said he would deploy a handful of school resource officers to help.
Most of the focus, he said, will be on the northern end of the county, where it meets the southern end of Rabun County, and to keep Ga. 15 moving.
Watts said there will be a meeting tonight with other law enforcement and public safety officials to “go over what we can and set up a little bit of a gameplan.”
Further south, Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said his agency will have deputies monitoring the situation and suggests keeping headlights on if driving.
With the one-hour delay on releasing children from school, Holbrook said the department is “coordinating safety plans with the school system.” Drivers should expect heavier traffic at a later time because of the change.