‘We’re concerned with safety:’ Bandera County leaders worry eclipse could drain rural resources dry

Community leaders across Bandera County are preparing to see thousands of people & warning residents to stock up on gas, groceries in advance

VANDERPOOL, Texas – Ron Brown said he’s been overstocking the shelves in the Lost Maples Country Store for more than two months in preparation for this weekend.

“We brought in more,” said Brown, the manager. “Hopefully, they’ll empty the store.”

The Country Store is the only gas and grocery option for residents in Vanderpool, a town in Bandera County. Typically, that’s no problem. But with the annular solar eclipse crossing over South Central Texas, county officials predict thousands of people will pack the small town. It’s causing concern over whether or not county resources will be drained dry.

“We do not know exactly what we’re looking at,” said Jody Rutherford, the Bandera County commissioner for Precinct 4. “We’ve had every kind of projection there is.”

Bandera County put out an eclipse guide ahead of this weekend, warning residents to run errands before the weekend, have cash on hand, have the proper eye protection for eclipse viewing, fill up their gas tank, and have supplies and groceries ready to go.

Rutherford said the town is built with a capacity of about 2,000. With weekend projections over 10,000, leaders expect slow cell service, grocery and gas shortages and standstill traffic.

“We’re worried about people coming in and getting off on side roads and blocking the road where we can’t run emergency traffic,” Rutherford said. “We’re worried about emergencies and being able to take care of the people here.”

Vanderpool has one gas station and one county store. There are no restaurants and no public restrooms outside the county store. County officials are also concerned that the roads are too narrow for cars to park on the shoulders to watch the eclipse.

Officials are expecting the busiest time for the eclipse to be 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. on Saturday, but Rutherford said many bed and breakfasts, trailer parks and cabins are booked through Sunday night.

County leaders are asking people coming through to be careful about trespassing and trash left after viewing the eclipse.

“We’re concerned with safety,” Rutherford said.

The Vanderpool Volunteer Fire Department has one of Utopia Volunteer EMS’s ambulances stocked at the firehouse. Fire Chief Alfred Buckner said leaders have been preparing for this eclipse for two years and see this as a test run for the total eclipse in April.

“The crosshairs are right up the road, about five miles,” Buckner said.

Find the latest Eclipse coverage on KSAT.com here

About the Author:

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!