LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Residents and officials in sparsely populated Lincoln County are worried that a planned “Storm Area 51” event might get out of hand.
The idea for a public gathering near the base sprung up on Facebook two months ago and has since caught the attention of millions of people around the world. Alien-themed businesses in Lincoln County say they would welcome an influx of visitors but a crowd of even a few thousand people would put a tremendous strain on public resources.
The Sheriff’s office has reportedly reached out to both the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Nevada Highway Patrol for assistance. County commissioners say they may have to issue an emergency declaration in order to raise funds to pay for public services including fire and ambulance service to accommodate a throng of tourists.
Lincoln County has only a few thousand full-time residents. The town of Rachel, which has less than 60 residents, has no gas station or food stores and only 10 hotel rooms, all of which are booked. The town’s website is warning visitors that they will need to be self-sufficient, that cell phone service is intermittent or nonexistent, and that many residents simply do not want to deal with huge crowds.
One organizer has boasted that the event will “take over Rachel” and that big-name rock bands will perform at the event dubbed “Alienstock” but town residents say they have no interest in being taken over by anyone. A few say they plan to ask the county to deny a permit to the event in Rachel. County leaders are starting to question whether proper planning has been done to handle an unknown.
At the other end of the Extraterrestrial Highway, the owner of the Alien Research Center say they have made arrangements for security, water, food, portable toilets, and other necessities. Owner George Harris says he has been working with local business owners and with county officials to accommodate as many as 20,000 visitors on the weekend of September 20 and 21. UFO-themed films and speakers will be featured, along with games and entertainment. Harris says his business has increased by several hundred percent in recent days, even though the actual event is still more than a month away.