“Lincoln County did not ask for this,” county commissioners have said regarding the possible invasion of people arriving for the Storm Area 51 event Sept. 20- 22 at Rachel and Crystal Springs.
But now that it has been thrust upon the county, local and county leaders are doing the best they can to develop a well-managed incident action plan in response to what may happen that weekend.
An open meeting for the Emergency Preparedness Committee in Alamo was held Aug. 22 for the purpose of updating the public as to what plans are being made for two events which may involve as many as 30,000 visitors, or more.
Lonny Walch of Pahranagat Valley Fire and EMS told the large crowd on hand that numerous planning meetings have already been held with the Nevada Department of Emergency Management and other agencies. “They are well into writing incident action plans, organization and structure. It is completely expandable.”
As has been noted in previous articles, should Emergency Management Director Eric Holt and Sheriff Kerry Lee decided to declare an emergency, the letter pre-signed by the county commission board could make available numerous resources from the state.
Commissioner Kevin Phillips said, “We passed this with the caveat that this may or may not happen. We’re just trying to do the best we can to prepare for something we know not of.”
Reports say all the motel rooms in the county are already booked.
Two separate music festivals are being planned for the weekend, one at Rachel and the other at the Alien Research Center near Crystal Springs. The hope is that these events will keep people from actually trying to rush Area 51 facilities and perimeter fences.
County Commission Chair Varlin Higbee and Lee have both said that Area 51 is a federal military base and the Air Force will defend it, if threatened. The Air Force itself has issued a warning saying trying to invade the facility would be “dangerous.”
Emergency Preparedness coordinator Pauline Broadhead, Pahranagat Valley Fire and EMS members Derick Bowman, Lonny Walch and Trevor Poulsen, and Deputy Tyrell Walch all spoke at the public meeting on the various areas involved in making sure Lincoln County and its residents are fully and adequately prepared for what this event may bring.
“We just don’t know what to expect,” Lonny Walch said, “because we don’t know how many are going to really be here, although we are anticipating a large, large number and in a county this size, we’re going to be strapped for resources. Things are changing and we are trying to stay on top of it all with a very dynamic plan we’re working with.”
One county commissioner quipped at the commission meeting Aug. 19, “This whole thing is like getting married. You don’t know what you’re getting into.”
Alien Stock event promoter George Harris said they are doing everything in their power to create “an amazing experience,” saying there will be “plenty of parking and camping spaces along with Porta Potties and drinking water.”
Final approval for the festivals will come before the commission board at the Sept. 3 meeting. If conditions and stipulations of the permits are not met satisfactorily, the permits could be revoked.
It was reported on Fox TV News in Las Vegas that the Nye County Commission denied a permit for an event organizers had dubbed “Peacestock 51” planned for Sept. 20 in Amargosa Valley.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported commissioners raised concerns about residents’ safety, dust, environmental damage and the remoteness of the site 90 miles from Las Vegas.
Lonny Walch said the Pahranagat Valley Fire Department will send one truck, one ambulance and crews to Hiko and the Tikaboo area, [east of Groom Lake Valley], “but mostly we are going to keep our resources located right in the Pahranagat Valley. We can’t risk having emergencies services not available in our own coverage area.”
Nevada Department of Transportation, the Nevada Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s office plan to have a number of points to monitor during the weekend, including the junctions of SR318 and U.S. 93 and SR318 and 375.
Broadhead offered special appreciation for the donations received from Alamo Inn, Logan’s Hardware, Great Basin Foods, Pahranagat Valley Federal Credit Union, ET Fresh Jerky, Alamo Diner, Rapport, Sunset View Motel and Timbers Lodging and Grill. She also extended her thanks to the Pahranagat Valley Fire Department.
On a related note, Ryan Rhodes with Pahranagat Valley Fire and EMS said a new class for EMT training will begin sometime in October. Dates and times will be announced later.