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'People heard the messaging': Solar eclipse went off without a hitch

Family and friends gather to watch the moon move over the sun in the Solar Port campgrounds in Madras, Oregon. Photo by Cheyenne Thorpe, Oregon News Lab

EUGENE, Ore. -- State agencies and emergency responders were prepared for the worst, but aside from clogged highways, all went well on eclipse day in Oregon.

"People heard the messaging - they arrived early and they were prepared," said Angela Beers-Seydel, with the Department of Transportation.

Word got out in Oregon that things could go well if everyone was ready and cautious, or that things could quickly turn bad if not.

"They were careful, they were safe and from all accounts for everything that we've seen and heard, people had a great time," said Paula Negele, with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Across the state, officials say the eclipse was a huge success.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management didn't have to respond to a thing. Emergency rooms at no point saw disaster. And for State Police and the Department of Transportation, it was business as usual.

"Between Friday morning and eight o'clock this morning, our dispatch sent folks to about 661 events in the area," Beers-Seydel said. "Believe it or not, that's about what we see on a typical summer weekend."

Those incidents included 116 crashes, 250 disabled vehicles, 114 hazardous debris and 33 abandoned vehicles - all of which were cleared by police and incident responders strategically placed throughout the state.

The only major problem anyone saw was hours of traffic once the eclipse ended.

"It was bumper to bumper traffic all over the place. there was no such thing as a back road in western Oregon," Beers-Seydel said.

She says it's to be expected: "The roads can only handle so much traffic and so that's gonna slow everybody down and make it take longer to get there."

And people were safe.

"I'm just glad that we were prepared for it regardless of if the patients came in or not, we were here and ready to take care of them," Michelle Elliott, Interim Nurse Manager for PeaceHealth Riverbend Emergency Department said.

The emergency department did see an influx of patients Monday evening, but Elliott said they weren't eclipse-related. A lot of them, however, had to do with the poor air quality.

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