State leaders are monitoring the planned “Storm Area 51” events this month to ensure that those in the area are safe.
Gov. Steve Sisolak said he’s been in contact with state and local agencies, including the Nevada National Guard, regarding the Sept. 20-22 events planned for Lincoln and Nye counties.
“Our team (has) been in constant communication with the National Guard; we’ve talked to them a few times,” Sisolak said recently. “Unfortunately it’s being promoted like it’s some kind of big party out there. They’re supposedly coming from all over the country and all over the world to go there, and we don’t want to put anybody in danger.”
The ordering of a guard presence would be a state decision, according to Nye County emergency manager Scott Lewis.
“We’re not at that point yet, because we have to understand what the scope is and what our actual risk is,” he said. “That’s an ongoing process. Those types of resources are in our back pocket and through a formalized process we would request such.”
Despite the planned Peacestock 51 festival being denied a permit by Nye County officials, the area is still bracing for a population surge in the thousands, because the original meet-up point mentioned in the viral Facebook post that started the whole “Storm Area 51” phenomenon called to meet at the Area 51 Alien Travel Center in Amargosa Valley.
A pair of events are planned for Lincoln County: Alienstock at the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel and Storm Area 51 Basecamp at the Alien Research Center in Hiko.
Stay away, officials urge
Nevada Highway Patrol troopers will handle traffic on the highways running through Nye and Lincoln counties. Nevada Department of Transportation personnel will work in a support role, ready to close down roads if deemed necessary, according to Mike Yates, the department’s assistant district engineer.
The Metropolitan Police Department doesn’t plan to station officers in either county for the events, but it didn’t rule out the possibility if circumstances warranted it, according to Metro spokeswoman Alejandra Zambrano.
Sisolak reiterated that resources in both areas are scarce, and even a small increase in population will have big effects.
“There aren’t any services out that way; there’s no gasoline or stores to buy things,” he said. “So hopefully people will be more reasonable and think that this is not a good idea. We’re not encouraging them to go.”
Lewis said Nye County is putting together information packets for businesses to prepare them for the possible influx of people that weekend.
Both counties pre-signed emergency declarations, allowing for an expedited response if an emergency situation presents itself and additional state resources are required.
The event started as an internet hoax but quickly became a full-blown event after over 2 million people showed interest in a Facebook post.
Sisolak is worried that organizers have created events too large for their own good.
“They’re trying to make it into something like an EDC or Burning Man, and it’s not,” he said. “There’s no way we could encourage people to go. The facilities and infrastructure is not there.”
Although there hasn’t been much talk about the “Storm Area 51” movement in Washington, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said state leaders are doing the right thing in taking the events seriously.
“I support what the local governments are doing,” she said. “They need to be prepared. They don’t know know what to expect.”