RACHEL — Organizing the response the Storm Area 51 Facebook joke that spawned events in Rachel and Hiko has been no laughing matter for Lincoln County.
On Saturday, Lincoln County Commissioner Varlin Higbee gave kudos his southern neighbors for their help.
“If we hadn’t had them (Clark County) on board, we would have been in trouble,” Higbee said while he and Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick hung out behind a pair of pickup trucks people-watching at Alienstock. “She (Kirkpatrick) stepped up and went to the wall for us.”
Kirkpatrick was one of the first officials to congratulate Higbee when he won seat on the commission.
The relationship the two have built over the years helped in the preparation process.
“Her resources, her people, her manpower — I can’t say enough,” Higbee said.
When Lincoln County asked for assistance to plan for the unknown, Kirkpatrick and Clark County were all-in.
Kirkpatrick has stayed at the nearby incident command post where over a dozen agencies set up a temporary camp to monitor Alienstock in Rachel and Area 51 Basecamp in Hiko.
“It’s been interesting for sure,” Kirkpatrick said. “Nothing I would have ever expected.”
Kirkpatrick is going to be more alert to cases such as the Storm Area 51 Facebook joke in the future.
“Our emergency response system has to look at how events are promoted on social media,” she said. “There’s a huge risk if you aren’t prepared. But it’s a lot of fun, people having a great time, but not something I’d do twice. But I’m here to be here for the first time in support.”
The main takeaway from the weekend, Higbee said, is that if an event of this magnitude occurs again, it’s manageable.
“We can do this,” he said. “To start with two months ago when stuff hit the fan, it was like how in the hell are we going to pull this off? Then all the agencies started to offer their services … I can’t complain; they really stepped up. I know we can handle this. If it happens again, it’s a doable thing.”