Huge Crowds Coming for Total Solar Eclipse Present Challenges, Opportunities for Northwest Credit Unions


At 10:15 the morning of Aug. 21, a total eclipse will make landfall near Newport along the Oregon Coast. It is the first event of its kind in the contiguous United States in 38 years, and one that will not repeat for another hundred.

During the eclipse, the moon will fully cover the sun, turning bright skies to darkness, lowering temperatures 10 to 15 degrees, and treating astronomy geeks to a spectacular show for one to two minutes. In the 70-mile wide “path of totality,” the sun’s cornea, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury will be visible. The path will sweep across 14 states, but viewing is expected to be best in the wide-open skies of Oregon and Idaho. That puts many Northwest credit union branches at ground zero.

Up to one million visitors are expected in Oregon, and more than 300,000 are expected in Idaho. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) expects gridlock on the state’s highways and warns that drivers could be stalled in hours-long traffic jams. Law enforcement agencies in both states have already notified businesses that the crowds will put serious safety and security strains on their resources.

Northwest credit unions are already planning wisely. Following is a preparation checklist for consideration, based on your Association’s interviews with member credit unions and state regulators across the region:

  • Review plans for branches in or near the path of totality.
  • Consult local law enforcement for input on what the safest plan is for your credit union.
  • Consider employee and member safety; can they travel to and from the branch?
  • Consider plans to close branches or delay opening depending on crowds expected and availability of safety resources.
  • If closing or delaying opening, state regulators in both Idaho and Oregon request that credit unions notify them in advance.
  • Notify members in advance, as you would in the event of a holiday closing. Post signs in branches, and on all online banking and social media sites.
  • Remind members of the 24/7 availability of online banking resources during any closures.
  • Be good to your members. Suggest they get necessary cash before the weekend of the eclipse, run grocery errands, gas up their vehicles, stock up first aid kits, and enjoy the eclipse only if they have protective eyewear.
  • Consider giving your employees and members total eclipse glasses. NASA has posted information about companies that manufacture eclipse glasses meeting the international ISO 12312-2 standard here.
  • If you determine that a delayed or a full-day opening is possible, consider extra security to assist you with crowds.
  • Prepare ATM capacity during the weekend of August 18-21.
  • Consider parking lot security in the path of totality. Whether you are reserving the lot for members and employees, or opening it to travelers, security or parking lot monitors may be a good idea.
  • If you offer any eclipse promotions such as special rates, consult your compliance experts or your Association’s Compliance Hotline at 1.800.546.4465.

Editor’s note: Credit unions in the path of totality discussed their plans with Lynn Heider, VP Public Relations. In next week’s Anthem, we will share details from the front lines.

Posted in Around the NW.