The U.S. is just a few days away now from the so-called Great American Total Eclipse. For about two and a half minutes on Aug. 21, 2017, millions of U.S. residents will be plunged into temporary darkness as the moon covers up the sun.
CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
It’s the first solar eclipse in almost a century to sweep across the country from coast to coast. Towns along the so-called path of totality, such as Glendo, Wyoming, are preparing for an influx of people.
“We’re kind of a sleepy little bedroom community,” said Brenda Hagen, Glendo’s town clerk and treasurer. “I’ll put it this way. Our nearest Wal-Mart is 75 miles away.”
As Hagen well knows, some big things lie ahead for this community of 200 people located in the eastern end of the state.
“We’ve actually been working on this about four years now,” Hagen said.
Glendo is one of the places where the moon will completely block the sun. It’s bracing for hordes of eclipse viewers, a crush of humanity as rare here as the eclipse itself.
“I see people wall to wall,” Hagen said.
Glendo is expecting anywhere from 20,000-100,000 visitors. Huge fields just north of town have been mowed to accommodate the crowds.
Nearby Wheatland, Wyoming is getting ready too.
“I don’t know if you could call it excited,” said Wheatland Mayor Ed Fabian, whose town lies right on the edge of the path of totality. He expects his community’s population to at least double.
“We’re mostly concerned about the impact it’s going to have on our infrastructure, our sewer, our water, our electric grid,” Fabian said. But, he added, there is a plus side. “We’re planning on our businesses making lots of money,” he said.
Dan Brecht, the owner of Wandering Hermit in Wheatland, has spent months assembling an array of merchandise, including books on astronomy, for eclipse tourists who wander into his store.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” Brecht said. “I think we’ll probably have two or three extra Christmas days in August which will be pretty nice.”
Hotels are booked in Wyoming. Restaurants are staffed up. And t-shirts now comprise a major industry here.
One store in Glendo hopes to sell 70,000 of them by the time the eclipse is over.
Hagen hopes she’s ordered enough portable toilets and trash dumpsters for an event that’s severely strained the town budget.
“The town, if we break even, we’ll be doing good,” she said.
Fabian trusts that he’s accounted for all of the possibilities as well.
“We’ve prepared for the worst and hopefully it won’t be that bad,” he said.
Wyoming, a lightly populated state that’s often overlooked, is about to have its moment in the sun.
“Everyone knows about Yellowstone but there’s a lot of Wyoming that’s enjoyable to visit and see and this’ll help bring people into the area that normally wouldn’t be here,” said James Serfoss, a Douglas, Wyoming resident.
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