Will the 3-day preparation period be increased later ?

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After reading Ed's essay regarding the "3-day snowstorm metaphor", I am questioning if it is reasonable to expect a lengthening of this period by the government at some point - to perhaps a week, two weeks, or longer ?

Consider the percentage of people that live near, at, or below the "poverty level" - or for any other reason would not be able to prepare for a longer period. How about the issue of current supply levels with just-in-time inventories and their relationship to what would be an increase in demand, perhaps sudden, for preparation items. What ramifications, if any, would a lengthening of preparation time have on the fractional reserve banking system that is threatened by having so little physical cash compared to funds deposited. Then there are the potential impacts to the financial markets and the economy.

Would an increase of the 3-day period also potentially increase the risks of panic, which if I remember correctly Mr. Koskinen has said is 'job #1' - to prevent a panic. For Y2K, FEMA has actually shortened the period that they usually recommend for disaster preparation from two weeks to three days, conforming to the snowstorm metaphor. And according to their web site, the Red Cross advised the following: "Stock disaster supplies to last several days to a week", and also "have some extra cash on hand in case electronic transactions involving ATM cards, credit cards, and the like cannot be processed. Plan to keep cash in a safe place, and withdraw money from your bank in small amounts". Interestingly, this Red Cross link is now dead, despite the advice about the preparation period being in the right ballpark.

Those of you who have followed my posts may know where I am going: Money. I don't think anything will be done by the government regarding lengthening the 3-day period if it poses even a small threat to the banking or financial systems. It will only be done if it can be "managed" so as not to panic people. While none of us knows the answer to this threads question with certainty, I would guess that the current period of 3 days will not be increased by the government unless it can be done with an absolutely minimal risk of panic, which may not even be feasible.

Regardless, an increasing number of people may prepare for an increasing period as awareness continues to grow in a 'slow and steady' way - all despite the 3-day snowstorm being sold to J.Q. Public. This assumes no "triggering event", like a major Y2K failure that could potentially result in some level of panic. Also, slow and steady awareness growth may have a limited life-span even without any trigger event. There may come a point at which a 'critical mass' caused by increasing awareness is reached, and preparation for a longer period is no longer possible, with the niche and cottage industries the first to be overwhelmed.

These are some things that I have considered when guessing about this thread's question. My conclusion is that much of the above argues against the increasing in the preparation period as a deliberate and voluntary act of the powers that be. Rather, it will happen from the bottom up as people become increasingly Y2K aware over time - that is, if it happens at all. In the past I have thought that the government would increase the period gradually, primarily due to wanting to have folks get used to the whole thing like any other bad tasting medicine - a spoonful at a time. But now it is almost April 1999. We have run out of time for "gradually".

I am trying to get a handle on this. What is your opinion?

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@com.net), March 25, 1999


I think that once they have withdrawal limits in place around May, and they get the hang of paying cash and wire transactions via cashier's check, they will be able to let the cat a little further out of the bag.

See related thread Fed Sees Possible Complications from Y2K

BTW, Rob, thanks for the List of Failures Part 3. Where are 1 & 2?

-- a (a@a.a), March 25, 1999.


I agree that the "official" three day prep suggestion will probably never increase because of its potential to cause bank runs.

Three days prep might seem too modest to the general public in, say, August. I could see a change in preparation suggestions to something along these lines...

"Prepare for a three-day storm or to a degree you feel comfortable with. Just remember, we're working really, really hard on this problem . Congress has just passed an emergency $3 billion spending bill to deal with it."

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), March 25, 1999.


I agree with much of what you are saying. I can't get my mind around anything I've read or heard from the government or local "officials" since I first heard the letters: "Y2K". A totally new experience for me, and I'm not that young. I think we have entered a new era for the individual in this country. There are no maps. We have to start to actually "think" about our welfare (not in the social context). And many Americans have become lazy and sluggish in that respect.

-- Linda (whatarewedoing@usa.net), March 26, 1999.

The government is certainly hanging tough on the 3-day preps, right now. Wonder if theyll just continue to bluff it?


I was saddened to see this e come around today from Steve Davis at Coalition 2000.

... A number of Coalition 2000 participants met on March 24th at the United Way headquarters in Alexandria Virginia. Thanks to the tireless organizational efforts of Lois Saboe, we had good attendance and professional facilitation; as a result, we had a very productive meeting. In addition to Leigh Shein who normally attends as the head the President's Council's working group on non-profits and civic preparedness, we were joined by Jason McNamara who is FEMA's detailee to the Presidents Council. Jason is very much involved in the Council's efforts on local preparedness.

After much interaction and dialogue we all agreed that it was time to move beyond trying to come to consensus on a length of time to prepare for. As a result we have revised the preparedness guidelines to be silent on the length of time. We are still stressing increased preparedness based on risk assessments but have omitted any specific reference to the number of days. We have also clarified our description of what participation means to make it perfectly clear that participation does not infer agreement with the opinions or advice of others. We hope that this will enable us to move forward with increased agreement and participation from the President's Council, FEMA, and a number of interested groups that have yet to join the Coalition.

It seems apparent that the Coalition is going to be a critical mechanism for bringing together the tools and information that many are looking for. We discussed the several current toolbox, template, and media efforts and agreed that we all needed to work harder at working together on these issues. Jason has offered to help us with setting up regular conference calls so that we can include participants that are outside of the Washington area. In addition, I think we took a big step to a closer working relationship that will help us all in working together on this.

We will follow-up with more information on the meeting and the conference call. In the meantime, please think about how we can increase participation in the Coalition. This low volume mail list will continue to be used to share Coalition information; if you are not already on it I encourage you to join by sending an e-mail to listserv@4hlists.org with "subscribe c2000 your_name" in the subject or the body of the message.



for more information.

Steve Davis

-- Diane J. Squire (
sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 26, 1999.

Rob, even if there are bank runs before That Date , people will still need a medium of exchange. There will still be the exchange infrastructures, still able to do their work. If/when they are no longer functional there will still be the floating body of greenbacks. And when those are not available something will arise to take their place - it has happened many times before. In part, the Bank of England arose because of a large scale currency and bank collapse on the Continent (necessitating the ability to create money out of thin air) - to the point where squares of fur were being used as specie. Money panic is right under our noses, it has been taking place and still is taking place in Banking and Big Govt. Those are the collective entities with the most to lose. The rest of us will do as we always have done when currencies, banks, and big govts have bit the dust - a few will really suffer, but most of us will muddle along.

Does it really matter whether or not some Agency or Entity places a time estimate on the length for which to prepare? Unless a very major public figure hits all the media on a very regular basis telling everyone to prepare, very few will prepare, regardless of what the RC or FEMA or a local grassroots group recommends. The only people paying attention to any of those groups are those people who are already aware of the need for preparation - and the majority have already made up their minds as to the extent of their preparation.

270 million people just in this country alone. Figure out the logistics necessary for individual preparation if all those 270M begin preparing at the instigation of RC, FEMA, or grassroots. Consumer Logistics: listing the needs, aquiring the needs, storing the needs. Supplier Logistics: ramping up for the additional consumer needs in consumables and storage, delivering needs to stores, creating shelf space at stores, creating a fast flow thru for consumers purchasing those needs, changing of traffic patterns around stores selling needs, matching gasoline needs to increased car traffic.

3 days? A Week? A Month? 6 Months? A Year? - each one of these time frames engender their own problems. They range from "too long or too short of time frame", to "will people have enough money to adequately prepare for 'that' time frame", to "will the producers of the 'need' have the ability to service the demand", to "will people act if the stated time frame is too short, and will they ignore advice if the time frame is too long"?

If one thinks that govt should stay out of the preparation business that puts all preparation onto the backs of individuals, and we know where that leads - a whole lot of, middle class or less, people doing no preparation. If one thinks that govt should be in the business of preparations I must ask: When are they going to do it? I see no budgets of the necessary magnitude, nor the political will to create one.

I can't even figure out how govt, public, and private enterprise is going to deal with a possible 30 million without water.

We can natter forever, apparently, regarding "How Long". But the real truth is that we don't know and we are totally beholden to the efforts extended by our Public and Private Utilities. Without reliable power, transportation is winged, and both hit the Food Chain - upstream and downstream. If the Food Chain is hit, discussions about 3 Days, or a Month, or perhaps even 6 Months or longer will seem to the survivors of the resultant Famines and Plagues as very quaint discussions on par with those from the Middle Ages re the number of Angels on the Head of a Pin.

I agree wholeheartedly, it is time to stop talking about HOW LONG. It is time to face the real high probability that only a very small percentage of the whole population will be ready for any y2k hit larger than the bump in the road - and that it is probably too late to prepare the whole population for even two weeks worth of y2k hit.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), March 26, 1999.

a: Yeah, I was thinking along those lines too regarding putting limits into place, but do not know why you mention May specifically - probably missed a thread or two - but I see a potential catch-22 problem in imposing limits to prevent problems - just the implementation of such a policy might touch one off, don't you think? And thanks for the link to Kevin's fine post. Also, I posted a thread that has links to all three failure lists.

Linda: Your post inspired me to address the idea of not being able to get out of the Y2K Fog. Specifically, when you wrote "get my mind around anything" it reminded me that I have been wanting to start a thread about the difference between need and want - in the context of lifting the fog and focusing on preparation. See the new "newbie" thread about "What you need to know".

Diane: The words "time to move beyond trying to come to consensus on a length of time to prepare for" rang a bell. I have seen this over and over in meetings at work. They come to something tough and 'table' it, in the interest of 'progress'. It has been my experience that the success of this is directly proportional to the dependency between what is being tabled on how important that is to the resolving the rest of the issue.

Mitchell: Thank you for a thoughtful post. I agree that a medium of exchange will always be needed, and remember my history as well. The English, before the BOE, used the tally stick system for about 800 years successfully, so your point is well made. You ask "Does it really matter" and then make some good points. Perhaps it doesn't and the question is already moot to some extent. I do think that awareness will increase still, and subsequently so will preparation activity, and had hoped for a long time that if significant number of folks did get ready as best they could, this would to some extent mitigate the ramifications of Y2K's impact - mostly on a local basis. Now, as I originally posted, we have run out of time for 'gradually', and my hopes are probably not going to be realized. Last year at this time for example I held the hope that greater awareness would produce a ramp-up in supplies and inventories and allow for a greater number of folks to prepare. That time has expired.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@com.net), March 26, 1999.


Found this comment. It does illunminate what the prep reasoning is.


Buried in ...

NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission Briefing On Y2K

Thursday, February 11, 1999

http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/COMMISSION/TRANSCRIPTS/ 19990211b.html


... That brings me to my request of the Commission and the staff and the industry. That is that our other major problem and risk in the United States will be overreaction by the public to the perception of what this problem could look like.

We are concerned that if a few people decide to change their economic behavior, it won't make a lot of difference, if even a reasonable number of people do that, but if 200 million Americans decide to do anything very differently all at one time, the system is not geared up to deal with that, and we could have a self-fulfilling prophesy where we have a major economic problem even though the systems basically are functioning appropriately. ...

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), March 26, 1999.

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