The commissioners in Lincoln County, Nevada, have pre-signed a declaration of emergency in preparation for a surge of visitors expected to descend on the rural community when the much-hyped "Storm Area 51" event occurs next month.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the county commission also issued conditional approvals for two event permits slated to begin Sept. 20. Lincoln County Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee told the paper, "Oh, we're taking this seriously. With the possibility of 35,000 to 40,000 people showing up, yeah, this is serious."
Higbee explained, "We haven't actually set a trigger point (for declaring an emergency) yet. We don't know where or how far our resources are going to go. A lot of it is equipment and financing. The county only has so much money to deal with, and if you start paying a lot of money for overtime...your financing can go pretty fast."
According to The Hill, "officials expressed worry that a surge of people will crowd campsites, gas stations and various public services, such as cellphone towers." There are only about 184 hotel rooms in all of Lincoln County.
There's also the issue of having enough available law enforcement.
County Sheriff Kerry Lee told the Associated Press Tuesday he was meeting with state emergency planning officials. Lincoln County authorities have already consulted with law enforcement officials from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Clark County, the Nevada Highway Patrol, and the sheriffs of White Pine and Nye counties.
As of this writing, 2 million people have signed up on Facebook to attend the "Storm Area 51" event to "see them aliens," and another 1.5 million have said they're interested. Although organizers have made it clear to thrill-seekers that the event is joke, it's gained enough steam that the U.S. Air Force issued a warning last month that anyone who actually tries to step foot on the top-secret property will be met with force.
Commissioner Higbee reiterated that the military will take all threats seriously. "We don't want [visitors] going down to government property; it will probably be blocked off," he told the Review-Journal. "Site No. 1 we don't want civilian people in contact with the military at all. That will get ugly. Understand that is a military base, and regardless of whether that base is in Afghanistan, Syria or wherever, it's still a base and they're going to protect it, just as if it were in a foreign country."