Nevada county issuing emergency declaration in advance of 'Storm Area 51' event

Nevada county issuing emergency declaration in advance of 'Storm Area 51' event
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A rural Nevada county drafted an emergency declaration in advance of a planned “Storm Area 51” event that is expected to draw thousands of visitors.

Lincoln County, home of U.S. Air Force base Area 51, issued the emergency declaration to help it plan to host the influx of people coming for the two events scheduled for next month after a social media campaign to storm the once-secret base went viral.

Two events in the county of 5,200 residents were approved for next month, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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“Oh, we’re very much taking this seriously,” Lincoln County Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee told the news outlet. “With the possibility of 35,000-40,000 people showing up, yeah, this is serious.”

Officials expressed worry that a surge of people will crowd campsites, gas stations and various public services, such as cellphone towers. The county has roughly 184 hotel rooms.

“The cellphone system is going to go down,” Higbee said. “You get more than a couple of hundred people there, and it’s going to crash. Cell service won’t be available.”

One event, a three-day music festival from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22 dubbed “Alienstock,” is being held at the Little A’Le’Inn in the community of Rachel, which has a population of about 50. Hotel owner Connie West said she expects 10,000 people to attend.

The Alien Research Center souvenir shop in Hiko, roughly 45 minutes from Rachel, is hosting an exposition over the same weekend.

County Sheriff Kerry Lee said Tuesday that he met with state emergency planning officials to coordinate for the events, according to The Associated Press.

Higbee made clear that visitors to Lincoln County should not attempt to enter Area 51.

“We don’t want them going down to government property; it will probably be blocked off,” he said. “We don’t want civilian people in contact with the military at all. That will get ugly.”

The scope of the social media campaign already prompted the Air Force to issue a warning of its own to the thousands planning on coming, saying the military “stands ready” and advising against coming near the base.