Fueling up for the eclipse

A Fred Meyer gas station attendant works to keep up with the increased demand from local residents and eclipse tourists alike.

The Baro Staff

In the days leading up to the eclipse, local residents have been stocking up on resources in anticipation of a potential supply shortage that may occur when visitors descend upon the area to view the celestial spectacle on August 21. The eclipse, which is estimated to attract nearly half a million visitors to Linn and Benton counties alone, has raised concerns that communities along the eclipse’s path of totality may see disaster-like shortages of food, water and gasoline as an unprecedented tide of visitors make their way to view a once-in-a-lifetime event.

On Thursday, the Corvallis Fred Meyer gas station on Ninth Street was packed with rows of vehicles looking to fill up before the weekend.

Chris Lindekugel, the Fred Meyer store manager, said that Wednesday was equally as hectic, noting that it was the busiest day he had ever seen.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Lindekugel said. “People are definitely unsettled.”

However, Lindekugel said that there have been no major problems thus far and that fuel has yet to run out. He said the availability of fuel would largely depend on the traffic along Interstate 5, the main road used by Fred Meyer’s fuel-delivery trucks.

According to Lili’a Uili Neville, the public information officer for Benton County, the anticipated spike in visitors has not yet occurred and many shortages are the result of local residents stocking up. She said that gas stations in neighboring Albany saw brief fuel shortages on Wednesday evening but they were restocked by Thursday morning.

When asked about the severity of Wednesday’s temporary fuel shortage, Neville said she would not characterize it has “huge.” To help differentiate fact from hearsay, Neville recommended that residents and visitors utilize tripcheck.com and the travel information line 511.

“I suggest monitoring the #OReclipse, #eclipse2017 and #midvalleyeclipse hashtags on Twitter. This is where you will find the timeliest updates being shared,” Neville said via email.

Patrick Rollens, the public information officer for the City of Corvallis, said that most of Corvallis’ gas stations appear to have sufficient fuel on hand and that he has yet to notice heavy traffic, adding that he has already seen Oregon Department of Transportation vehicles on roadsides monitoring traffic.

However, when looking at the bigger picture, eclipse preparation goes beyond stocking up on fuel and supplies. Rollens said that residents also need to be mindful of how they use the resources available to them at home.

“We are increasing water production at the 2 treatment plants that serve Corvallis, but it’s still a good idea for residents to avoid non-essential water use, like watering their lawns or filling up kiddie pools,” Rollens said in an email.