SANTEE, SC (WLTX) - Thousands of people are expected to use I-95 to get to their destination for the total eclipse - and that's great news for the small town of Santee in Orangeburg County.
It started with a question.
"We had a gentleman that visited our visitor's center," said Jane Powell with Santee Cooper Visitor's Center, "and he said, 'Are you familiar with the fact that we're going to have a total solar eclipse here in a year from now?'"
It was a question Powell says she had never given much thought.
"A total solar eclipse, really?" Powell questioned, "How is that going to affect the economy, are people really willing to travel like this gentleman was telling me?"
Boy, was she in for a surprise.
"It is like a storm that's been brewing," Powell said.
Turned out, the path of totality meets Interstate 95 right near Santee, making it the closest destination for drivers from Maine to Florida.
"We're booked," Powell said, "if you drew a line all the way down Lake Marion, booked to capacity with a waiting list."
"We have a client flying in from France and we have two from the United Kingdom," said Kittie Collier, general manager of locally owned Clark's Inn and restaurant.
Collier says the timing couldn't have been better.
"When it's happening is not really a busy time of year for us, so it's really going to help us tremendously," Collier said.
Out of the thousands projected to come through the area, Collier hopes a few will stop by the bar, eat at the restaurant, and leave with a souvenir.
"You want to have them come and enjoy it," Powell said. "We're friendly here, we're hospitable, I think we're one of the best kept secrets in the state!"
Powell says they have no idea what to expect, and encourages people in the area to stock up on groceries and gas in the days before the big event.
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