County team, firemen assist with eclipse emergency plans

Apr. 17—Members of the McAlester/Pittsburg County Office of Emergency Management were among local groups who helped make sure everyone stayed safe during the total eclipse of the sun.

Emergency responders and coordinators from Pittsburg County fanned out over several communities and cities in Southeastern Oklahoma's path of totality to help with regional coordination for the April 8 total eclipse.

They included members of several local volunteer fire departments, as well as a special unit with the Office of Emergency Management.

"We deployed the Rescue Team," said McAlester/Pittsburg county Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe.

He said the Rescue Team consisted of volunteers from different fire departments from around the county.

Those assisting from Pittsburg County were assigned to various parts of Southeastern Oklahoma that lay within the path of totality.

"Most of them were in McCurtain County," Enloe said.

Enloe said he set up in Hugo, where the Regional Coordination Center was set up at the Hugo Agriplex Convention Center.

"We were the regional coordination center," Enloe said, with the Agriplex serving as the coordination center for Choctaw, McCurtain, Pushmataha and LeFlore counties.

They were charged with everything from being ready to work with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol on traffic issues to coordinating rescue teams if they were needed.

Tasks included monitoring traffic and other situations from above.

"We had drone teams flying," Enloe said.

Members from approximately six volunteer fire departments from Pittsburg County participated by traveling to different sites in the path of totality.

They included members of the Krebs and Ashland volunteer fire departments who were spotted by a News-Capital team on the scene in Hochatown, one of the communities in the path of totality.

No major issues occurred in the area during the eclipse, "Other than the traffic got busy for awhile," said Enloe.

Although some of the area in the path of totality, including Broken Bow, were filled with visitors on-hand to view the eclipse, they were obviously there to enjoy the view up above.

With plenty of parking lots available in Broken Bow, those viewing the eclipse had ample opportunities to watch the eclipse out of the flow of highway traffic.

While there were no major issues that required emergency action by the local Rescue Team or any of the fire departments from Pittsburg County that were stationed in the path of totality, they were ready if they were needed.

Enloe said the careful planing that went on beforehand meant emergency responders, law enforcement and others were prepared for any major issues that might have occurred during the total eclipse in Southeastern Oklahoma.

He said the event-planning process had been ongoing for a year-and-a-half prior to the eclipse.

"It went very well," Enloe said of the eclipse in Southeastern Oklahoma.

"There was great coordination of local, state and federal agencies."