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Eclipse Preparation for
Gatesville Area Residents

The City of Gatesville has been working for the last year to prepare for an influx of visitors for the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. We anticipate that our population could double or triple for the weekend leading up to the eclipse, and that many more will travel to or through our community on April 8. Our Police and Fire Departments, along with other city departments have worked with Gatesville ISD, Coryell Health, TXDoT, DPS and many more agencies and organizations. Together, we have carefully thought through potential problems and have planned for how we can accommodate the increased numbers, control heavier than normal traffic, and provide a good experience for our residents and visitors. We've also been able to talk with communities that were in the path of totality in 2017 and have learned from their experiences. While it is inevitable that there will be some issues, we are confident that we are doing everything we can to be ready to respond to those. We ask you to join us in preparing. The following are some tips for our residents for the days leading up to the Total Solar Eclipse.

Tips for Residents

To Do Now:

  • Educate Yourself - This eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of us. Learn what it is about through this or news articles. Understanding what you will see and how to safely observe it is an important first step.

  • Get Eclipse Glasses - You'll need special glasses to safely observe the partial phases of the eclipse. The City of Gatesville has custom, commemorative eclipse glasses for sale at City Hall and the Gatesville Fitness Center. These and other designs are also available in various businesses in town. 

  • Consider Your Schedule - Schedule non-emergency appointments on dates other than April 8, if possible. Traffic is expected to be heavy that Monday. You also don't want to miss the eclipse while sitting in a waiting area!

  • Make Necessary Travel Preparations - If you work outside of town or must drive that Monday, be aware that there may be significant traffic issues on Monday afternoon, particularly on Hwy 36 and US 84.

To Do Starting April 1st:

  • Stock Up - Our stores are preparing for a heavier demand from shoppers, but we could see shortages of some essential items between April 6-9. It would be a good idea to shop early in the week of April 1. Fill prescriptions and purchase any necessities so that you aren't running out on April 8 for these.

  • Fuel Up - With the number of travelers in and through our area, there could be some fuel shortages by Monday, April 8th. Help our local gas stations by fueling up your vehicles earlier in the week of April 1st so they can have enough on hand for travelers between the 6th-9th. 

  • Get Cash - It is possible that the higher demand on our cell and internet systems could cause credit card machine problems over this busy weekend. ATM machines may also run low on cash. Please try to do this ahead of the weekend so that our banks and businesses have plenty on hand before they get busy with visitors.

To Do April 6-7:

  • Get Out and Enjoy! - We are holding a downtown festival on April 6-7. See BLOCK (out the sun) PARTY for more information. Admission is free and there will be plenty for kids and adults. Come out to visit with your neighbors, meet our visitors, and make some memories as we wait and prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse. We do expect to have a good number of people in town over the weekend, but we don't anticipate major traffic issues until Monday afternoon, so don't be afraid to join in the festivities.

To Do April 8th:

  • Stay home if you can and witness this amazing event! You'll be able to see the partial phases with eclipse glasses starting around 12:15pm. Totality occurs at 1:36 and will last 4 minutes, 23.9 seconds. You'll then be able to oberserve the partial phases again.

  • If you must travel, expect that traffic will be heavier than normal Monday morning. Be prepared that the main roads and highways will likely be congested for several hours after the eclipse. 

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Tips for Residents

Eclipse FAQs for Gatesville Residents and Visitors

 

Q:  What’s the big deal?

A: Gatesville has one of the longest durations of total occlusion (darkness) in the state.  Our city will be an attractive option from larger sites, such as Waco, due to being a smaller town at the crossroads of two major highways (HWY 36 and US 84).  We know all of our local lodging options have been booked for months and that a large number of residents will have family and friends staying in their homes for this historic event.  In short, we expect our population to double or triple in Gatesville from April 5th through 8th.    

 

Q:  What can I do in advance?

A1: We’d suggest running all your errands and scheduling appointments before April 4th, or after April 9th.  Our expected busiest timeframe will be April 5th through April 9th.

A2: We’d also suggest filling up your gas tank and doing your normal grocery shopping for the week before April 4th.  See our complete list of tips for residents at https://www.gatesvilletxeclipse.com/residents.

 

Q:  What should I do to get my business ready?

A: Have an alternate payment method in case credit card machines aren’t communicating very well (see “wireless communication” question).  Do your best to stock up and staff up for the increased numbers of customers.  Expect that deliveries and other services will be delayed on and around April 8th.

 

Q:  Will wireless communication be affected?

A: We are planning for the possibility that wireless communications will be delayed or disrupted, due to uncommonly high usage with the number of people needing service from a finite number of cell towers in our area.  Consider getting cash ahead of time and being able to use and receive cash as payment.  Consider developing a meet-up point or communication plan with family and friends if you lose service. 

 

Q:  What if I need emergency services and the cell services are delayed or interrupted?

A: If you do not have a landline to use in an emergency, consider finding out who near you has one. And remember that, even when cell service is limited due to high use, text messages can frequently get through when voice calls cannot.  Our 911 center can receive text-to-911 messages in an emergency.

 

Q:  Do I need a permit to sell food?

A: Any for-profit vending of a food or drink item outside of the city-sponsored Downtown Festival will require a food-handlers permit, with some exceptions for entities with state-designated non-profit status.  Food handler courses and permits are available online from various sources, and the guidelines can be found at https://www.dshs.texas.gov.  

 

Q:  Do I need a permit to rent my home / camper / parking lot out for the event?

A: There is no specific permit required, but please do your research on insurance requirements and the Gatesville city ordinances, at gatesvilletx.com.  For example, you can rent out the camper in your driveway, but only if it is hooked up to a sanitary sewer per City Ordinance 24-4, “Sewage disposal from recreational vehicles.”  Follow us on Facebook for more tips.

 

Q:  How bad will travel be?

A: We expect greatly increased traffic through the weekend, with some delays likely.  On Monday from about 2pm through the rest of the night, we expect drastic delays on all city streets and highways throughout our region.  We are asking folks to pre-plan for significant delays on the afternoon of Monday, April 8.

 

Q:  Can I park on the side of the road to watch the Eclipse?

A: No.  Stopping and parking on the side of SH36, US84, or any of our FM roads is lawful for emergencies only.  However, we do know a number of people will come to town late on April 8th and park on the roadside.  If they do so, we will address any safety concerns or traffic obstructions, and we would remind folks to be aware of their surroundings in terms of snakes, fire ants, and local wildlife.

 

Q:  How can I help?

A: There are some great volunteer opportunities still available for the Downtown Festival and for other city preparations.  Please consider signing up your civic group, church group, family, or yourself individually at https://www.gatesvilletxeclipse.com/.  

 

Q:  What are first responders doing to prepare?

A: We have increased our workforce at both the Police and Fire Departments, in preparation for the increased number of people through the weekend and on April 8th.  We have been working with our local and state partners for over a year to ensure that we have the resources necessary to provide services throughout the event.

 

Q:  What events are going on in the city?

A: Check out our complete list at https://www.gatesvilletxeclipse.com/events.  The City of Gatesville is assisting with the event at the Gatesville Civic Center on April 8th, as well as the Downtown “Block out the Sun” Festival April 6th and 7th.  Many local venues, churches, restaurants, and businesses are hosting fun and exciting events.  Come out and enjoy our local flavor!

 

Q:  What else do I need to know?

A1: Renting Air BnB, etc. - https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/21034-press-release-bbb-investigation-into-rental-scams.

A2: How to prepare your home for short-term rental - https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-prepare-your-home-airbnb-vrbo-other-short-term-guests.html.  Insurance Requirements - https://www.tdi.texas.gov/tips/home-sharing.html.       

            A3: City Ordinance Sec. 24-5. - Food handler health.

            A4: City Ordinance Sec. 24-3. - Offensive substances discharged onto streets.

            A5: Ordinance Sec. 54-73. - Parking trailers, etc., for dwelling purposes. 

            A6: City Ordinance Sec. 24-4. - Sewage disposal from recreational vehicles.

           

Q:  How can I stay informed before and during this event?

A: Sign up for Code Red Alerts at https://www.gatesvilletx.com/, under “How DO I?” tab.

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