Lincoln County officials decided to pre-sign an emergency declaration ahead of multiple events surrounding Area 51 next month.
At their regular bi-monthly meeting Aug. 19, county commissioners approved the pre-signing which could make it possible to seek financial help and emergency personnel from the state to bring in the money needed for purchase of more medical and law enforcement resources.
Two planned music festivals, Alien Stock in Rachel and the Storm Area 51 Alien Palooza Day at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, are scheduled for Sept. 20-22.
County Emergency Management director Eric Holt thought the emergency declaration, if needed, would bring additional funds for essential services that Lincoln County is simply not equipped to handle on such a large scale.
Thousands are expected to come to Rachel and possibly Amargosa Valley in Nye County. Neither county has ever dealt with numbers of this magnitude.
County Planning and Building Directory Cory Lytle said, “This is placing a very large burden on our service personnel, law enforcement personnel and emergency management personnel.”
Holt said, “We are not actually declaring an emergency at this time. Rather it is to be prepared in case we do deplete our resources and our funds. The county only has so much money to deal with and we need to take care of our people.”
Commissioners moved $50,000 from a land trust fund to use in the short- term.
Initially intended as a joke, the Storm Area 51 event has mushroomed to over three million people on Facebook saying they plan to attend or arrive a few days prior.
Commission Chair Varlin Higbee was reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal as saying, “We’re taking this seriously. With the possibility of 35,000 to 40,000 showing up, yeah, this is serious.”
He also said the cell-phone service is going to go down quite quickly. “You get a couple of hundred people out there, and it’s going to crash. Won’t be available.”
At present, all the motel rooms in Pahranagat Valley are booked.
Holt noted that foot traffic alone at Little A’Le’Inn and Alien Research Center has increased in the past month from 40-50 on a given weekend, to nearly 1,000.
Las Vegas businessman George Harris, owner of the Alien Research Center, said on Aug. 18 alone, there were 27-28 visitors from Australia.
“People are already here to check this thing out,” Holt said.
Regarding any individuals actually trying to breach the Area 51 gates and fences at 3 a.m. on Sept 20, Higbee noted, “Area 51 is a military base and they will defend it like any other. We don’t want them going down to government property. It will probably be blocked off. We don’t want civilian people in contact with the military at all. That will get ugly.”
County residents say it would be simply foolish to try to gain unauthorized entry there. One Air Force person said, “We have trained for such things. We will be ready.”
Just how many people will really come to Rachel is a complete unknown. Some estimates run as high as 40,000, perhaps even more.
One commissioner quipped during the meeting, “Planning for this whole thing is like getting married. You don’t know what you’re getting into.”