April 7, 2024
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul and Administration Officials Update New Yorkers on Preparations for Total Solar Eclipse

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul and Administration Officials Update New Yorkers on Preparations for Total Solar Eclipse

Governor Hochul: “We are literally over the moon to welcome over one million people to our state for this once in a generation moment. Some people across the state have traveled hundreds of miles, others from out of town have traveled thousands of miles to come. And for one good reason, the stars are truly aligned for New York. We'll have incredible visibility here. This total eclipse will pass through some of the most beautiful backdrops our state has to offer.”

Hochul: “We are so excited to welcome people from all across the country and indeed the world to witness the wonders of our universe at hand. Tomorrow will be a very special and unforgettable day for all of us. A once in a century event – it'll be beautiful and profound. And for one brief moment, New Yorkers and our visitors, people all across this great country will be bonded in a shared experience that we will be telling our children and grandchildren about for the rest of their lives.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul and administration officials updated New Yorkers on preparations for the total solar eclipse.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page here.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Thank you, Commissioner. So delighted to get started. We've been waiting such a long time. I'm really sorry I can't make it there today. I thought I could be there in person, but we're here in Albany, hard at work on the State Budget. But finally, the countdown has begun to the first total solar eclipse over New York in over 99 years, and it's just 24 hours away. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the magistrate of God's creation as the eyes from the earth look to the heavens. It'll be breathtaking to see the sun covered in its totality, leaving us mere mortals in darkness for over three minutes.

First of all, Commissioner Bray, I want to thank you and your whole team at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services for the preparations, the intent seriousness of which we brought to this, treating it like it's one of the big blizzards – we've treated it as if it's one of the big storms. And so, we want to make sure that we keep people safe.

Also, our Acting Commissioner Randy Simons of the Office of Parks and Recreation, you'll be hearing from him to talk about how our state parks including the one and only Niagara Falls State Park are ready for this rare event. Jessica Decerce – she doesn't want to be called this, but we're going to call her anyhow – the Eclipse Czar. She's done an amazing job and I thank her and all the representatives that she's worked with from Parks Police and State Police.

And we are literally over the moon to welcome over one million people to our state for this once in a generation moment. Some people across the state have traveled hundreds of miles, others from out of town have traveled thousands of miles to come. And for one good reason, the stars are truly aligned for New York. We'll have incredible visibility here. This total eclipse will pass through some of the most beautiful backdrops our state has to offer – from Letchworth State Park to the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains, the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and of course, breathtaking Niagara Falls, which has been selected by NASA to launch their eclipse headquarters. So, we'll be joining them tomorrow.

We've partnered with their brilliant team to host a series of exhibitions at our state park, and these are free and give people really a deeper understanding of the science behind this incredible spectacle that we'll be experiencing tomorrow. So make sure everybody checks those out. And if you're bringing the kids, these educational events are a great way to spark an interest in science that can last a lifetime and can take them anywhere – literally anywhere.

The other day I had the opportunity to speak virtually with Dr. Jeanette Epps, a young woman from Syracuse, Syracuse born and raised. She was at the International Space Station as a trained astronaut, who at age nine decided she wanted to venture into the possibility of becoming an astronaut someday. So, the kids are not too young to get inspired by this event. We also had an overwhelming response from students who sent in questions for Dr. Epps ahead of our event. So, she's an inspiration to all of us, and she'll not just be exciting the kids, but she'll be one of the first astronauts to be able to witness a total solar eclipse from space. So, we had a chance to talk to her about that. Check that out.

Another exciting dynamic is welcoming all these visitors. Our small businesses are basking in the limelight. They're going to be welcoming people from all over as people see how our hidden gems are scattered all across the state. The small businesses, the restaurants, the diners; the bakery – everybody's getting ready to prepare special eclipse-themed food. So, you have to check that out.

And we know that those who are visiting for the first time will definitely want to come back. Now, remember the full eclipse will only last for just a few minutes and our team has spent over 17 months preparing for this event to make sure that you can experience it safely and enjoyably. I want to go over just a few tips to make sure you have the best possible viewing experience.

First of all, maybe many of you have traveled and figured this out. For those of you who are staying home, know where you want to watch this. And in fact, the safest, easiest place may be your own backyard if you're living in Western New York or anywhere else across the State. But in New York, we know that the path of totality goes through Jamestown, Rochester, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and on to Plattsburgh.

You can go to iloveny.com/eclipse for a calendar of our events all across the state. And there's still many more today and tomorrow. You can also find out the exact times that the eclipse will be passing through each city on its path so you're ready and looking up at the right time.

A second tip is: keep an eye on the forecast and the conditions in the area you’re going to. Some of our areas – particularly in the North Country – had an unprecedented snowfall just a short time ago. The ground is wet, there could still be some rough conditions. If you're planning on going in the back country, there may be some areas that are not accessible to you.

So, you really want to check all this out in advance. But overall, we're looking for good conditions across the state. But, perhaps one of the most important: build in lots of travel time. We are warning everyone that the roads can only handle so much and we're expecting a high, high volume of traffic before and after the event as people go to the destinations they want to visit.

Like I said, our State Parks, the waterfronts, the mountains, all the way over to Niagara Falls where I hope to be if we can make some progress here. So, with this huge influx of visitors, especially in some of the remote parts of our state, truly you need to expect extended traffic delays. So, pack your patience along with snacks and water. And make sure you have a full tank of gas. We've been in communication with our gas stations all across New York. Be ready, fill up in advance. You do not want to run out of fuel in the middle of a jam-packed roadway, as has happened in past experiences across the country. We've taken a lot of lessons. Last time there was a major event like this, there were 10-hour delays – people stranded in their vehicles out west, and so we just want people to know, that can happen, so be aware of it and plan accordingly.

And as you're traveling, I know you'll be tempted to pull off the side of the road and look up to the heavens from the shoulder, please don't do that. If we need emergency vehicles to get through, our first responders will use that as the best place for them to get to you and your family quickly. So, let's make sure we're cognizant of that as well.

And take proper precautions during the eclipse. Don't be blinded by the light. In anticipation, we have these incredibly cool glasses. These are going to be a collector's item after this date. Pass them on to your children and grandchildren through generations. These are very exciting, and people have been wanting these. They're definitely a hot commodity. Make sure that you protect your eyes from the light. Staring at the sun during the eclipse without proper eye protection can literally do permanent damage to your vision. And so, to make sure you're doing that, you have to have not just your ordinary sunglasses, but special solar eclipsed solar filters have to be involved here. So, make sure that you're prepared with the right glasses.

Now, in conclusion, we are so excited to welcome people from all across the country and indeed the world to witness the wonders of our universe at hand. Tomorrow will be a very special and unforgettable day for all of us. A once in a century event – it'll be beautiful and profound.

And for one brief moment, New Yorkers and our visitors, people all across this great country will be bonded in a shared experience that we will be telling our children and grandchildren about for the rest of their lives. So don't rush. Take your time. Everybody's excited. So be courteous to each other. Prioritize your safety and the safety of your family and everyone have a spectacular time.

Thank you very much. Let me turn it back to Commissioner Jackie Bray.

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