Emily Adair
The La Grande Observer
Cherise Kaechele
The La Grande Observer

Stocking up

The following is a basic checklist of items to stock up on in advance of the eclipse weekend:

• Water

• Fuel

• Safety glasses for eclipse viewing

• Food and groceries, especially those with a long shelf life

• Prescriptions and medical needs

• Necessities specific to your family

Source: Oregon State University Extension

With the total solar eclipse nearly a week away, county officials and several businesses are stressing preparedness.

“If you are prepared, it will not be a significant event,” Union County Emergency Services Manager JB Brock said.

Brock said it is important for individuals to be prepared for inconveniences caused by the waves of visitors expected to be traveling to or through Northeast Oregon to view the eclipse. As many as three million people are projected to travel through the area on the interstates, according to Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bob Kavanaugh.

“Make sure you have fuel, food and water and all your necessities like prescriptions. Make sure you are prepared to not need anything during the duration of the event,” Brock said. “If you use oxygen, make sure you have the right amount of oxygen. Anything that is critical for you (should be on hand).”

The idea is to avoid having to go out for items while the roads are packed, Brock said.

Brock said that his department is expecting the influx of traffic to last from the Wednesday prior to the eclipse to the Wednesday after.

Several local grocers and gas stations have the same mindset that preparation is key.

Safeway Store Director Gordon Royal, for instance, said that even though there’s no way to know exactly how many people will come, his staff will be ready.

Royal said the company has decided to treat the event as if it were a busy holiday weekend. That means stocking up on several items, especially with campers in mind.

“We’re loading up on s’mores (ingredients) and camping supplies,” Royal said.

He said Safeway has also increased its supply of snacks like popcorn and candy, as well as beer and soda.

“All the good stuff,” said Abby Edmonds, the store’s front-end manager.

Royal said he is not worried about running out of stock, because the store receives daily truck shipments in the evening. He expects they won’t be affected by traffic at those times, but the company has canceled its trucks from the distribution center in Clackamas on the day of the eclipse.

“I think they just decided the roads would be too jammed,” Royal said.

Royal said the store will not be raising prices to match the potential demand.

“We’re not like the hotel market,” he said.

Edmonds said Safeway will have more staff members working on the weekend leading up to the eclipse.

Similarly, Bailey Wernke, a cashier at Shortstop Xtreme, said several employees will be on call to help out if they’re needed. Wernke said the Shortstop has also increased its supply of convenience store items and its ice storage.

Mike Prendergast, facility manager at the Flying J, said the truck stop has been preparing for an influx of people for about a month now.

He said he’s been stocking up and has a separate storage facility for items that won’t fit on the shelves.

Flying J will also bring in portable restrooms to reduce lines.

The only thing Flying J can’t stock up on is fuel. There’s only so much room for intake, but Prendergast said the suppliers are great with getting to the station no matter what obstacles they face.

“Even in the snowstorms in the winter — they make it,” he said, so he doesn’t anticipate additional traffic causing a problem.

There are some store owners, however, who do not expect to be affected much by the eclipse. One such owner, Elaine Bork, believes her Willow Grocery on Cove Avenue will not face as much demand as shops along Island or Adams avenues.

“From where I am, I don’t see there being too many people coming in,” Bork said. “There might be a little blip, but not much.”

Some businesses are taking advantage of the visitors by offering extended hours or unique items.

Community Merchants on Adams Avenue, which is not usually open on Sundays, will be open on Aug. 20. Employee Christine Mowery said the only other major change the store will be making is to offer eclipse souvenir T-shirts.

Kavanaugh said there are restaurants that have ordered extra food and additional coolers for storage. He said some are even creating special menus for the eclipse weekend.

Kavanaugh said he knows of only one business in downtown La Grande that is taking the opposite approach by closing its doors around the event.

“We completely understand that,” he said. “This would be a lot for anyone to take on.”

Still, the chamber is working to generate backup staffing options for the businesses that want to remain open.

Kavanaugh said the business owners he’s spoken to have assured him there will be plenty of fuel and food in the county.

“In terms of raw goods, food, services and personnel, everyone seems to be on track,” Kavanaugh said. “Everyone is set and ready.”

Now, he said, it’s time to “wait and see what happens.”