Area nonprofits, Multnomah County library work to help homeless, those in need enjoy eclipse event
Oregon is swelling with people as the eclipse draws near, and the sunglasses needed to watch the celestial event on Monday morning are flying off the shelves.
Vendors have been selling glasses anywhere form only a couple dollars to nearly $15 each.
Not everyone can spare even a few dollars, though, so Multnomah County Library took it upon themselves to distribute 20,000 to homeless people and those otherwise unable to obtain a pair, so they might have a way to safely enjoy the natural spectacle.
"This is simply the library doing what the library does — providing learning opportunities and resources for the whole community," said Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries, in a news release. "It just so happens that this is a once in a generation event, right in our backyard, so it's been a fun and rather unique chance to share in the experience."
Experts have been advocating use of the glasses, since exposure to the sun's powerful ultraviolet rays could result in, well, hurt and damaged eyeballs.
Other services have been put into place for the event, which officials are estimating will draw one million people to the state and result in the largest traffic event in Oregon's history.
There could be a fallout from the visitor surge; some anticipate empty grocery store shelves and extraordinarily long lines at gas stations.
The county's regional information clearinghouse, 211info, has established an actual eclipse hotline through Wednesday, Aug. 23.
It's working with the state's Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Transportation, Travel Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority and others to provide information about where and how to view the eclipse, safety concerns, emergency preparedness, traffic, road closures and more.
Folks can call 211 and press 1 for "eclipse information," text "eclipse" to 898211, or visit www.211info.org/eclipse. The hotline will run Aug. 16-23 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
How other agencies are helping, according to a Multnomah County news release:
Bradley Angle House
Staffers have handouts at the ready and have shared glasses with all shelter participants and staff. They've also given advice on social media and directly with participants on how to prepare for heavy traffic, and gas and food shortages.
Cascade AIDS Project
Cascade AIDS Project is sharing safety information sent in an email this week from the Joint Office of Homeless Services, with as many clients as possible. The nonprofit is not providing glasses directly, but is directing clients to places where glasses are available.
Cascadia Behavioral Health
Cascadia is directing participants to 211 for information and is directing clients to places where glasses are available.
Central City Concern
Central City Concern is not directly giving out glasses, but it is helping clients obtain them as needed by sharing information on where to find safe, appropriate eyewear. Staff is also sharing links with information on how to safely experience the eclipse and warning clients about potential dangers.
Staff at the Family Shelter in east Multnomah County and the Gresham Women's Shelter are talking with residents about how to prepare for increased traffic and demand for food and gas, along with directing people to places where glasses are still available. Informational posters are up at both shelters.
Yellow Brick Road volunteers and Janus staffers are providing information on how to safely travel to safely view the eclipse during their regular outreach rounds. They also have a limited supply of glasses to hand out to those who want them.
Neighborhood House has given glasses to all interested program participants. Staff has also distributed glasses through Neighborhood House's food box program.
Northwest Pilot Project
Staff at Northwest Pilot Project are sharing information one-on-one with clients and are prepared to pass out a "very limited" supply of glasses to clients.
Transition Projects is preparing a safety poster for all of its facilities and shelter spaces explaining the dangers of looking directly at the sun as well as sharing resources on how to obtain glasses. Staff will share announcements at each of Transition Projects' facilities over the weekend and on Monday.