Solar eclipse fever grips Central Oregon amid influx of thousands of sky-watchers

REDMOND, Ore. (KABC) -- Solar eclipse fever continues to grip Central Oregon, where thousands of visitors have arrived in anticipation of Monday morning's highly anticipated celestial event.

The city of Redmond, located on the edge of the path of totality, is also serving as a command post for more than 20 emergency agencies.

First responders from across Oregon have descended upon the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in preparation for the eclipse, which will plunge a large swath of the state into darkness for nearly two minutes.

"It helps get information accurate information out in a rapid fashion so that folks here know exactly what's going on and can make decisions accordingly," said Peter Murphy, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The U.S. Forest Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and multiple fire departments are also on hand, preparing much as they would for a natural disaster. An estimated 220,000 visitors will experience the eclipse in the area.

Eight-year-old Naima Braham said the anticipation was "very exciting because this will be my first time, and the last time there was a total solar eclipse was about 100 years ago."

Monday's event will be the first total eclipse to cross the continental U.S. from coast to coast in 99 years. But the phenomenon comes with a hefty price tag for Naima's family and friends, who came to Redmond from Northern California.

Andrew Braham described "a random plot of land for $500 and no amenities, so it's pretty crazy in terms of pricing."

"I figure people are trying to take advantage of Southern California or Silicon Valley folks trying to come up here to see the eclipse," Braham said.

Many hotels in the region were said to have been sold out months, if not years, in advance. Pamela Morgan hopes that translates into big business at her establishment, the McKay Cottage Restaurant.

"We're hoping that maybe, once the eclipse happens on Monday, then everyone will be in Bend to just party and have fun for the rest of that week," Morgan said, referring to the city located about 17 miles southwest of Redmond.

While officials have stressed safety during this time, they're excited for people to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event in their hometown.

"Let's bring people up to experience Oregon at its best and enjoy what happens," said Murphy, the Department of Transportation spokesman.
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