Georgia officials urge having 3- to 5-day water and food supply : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

"Y2K: Prepare early for a week of woes - State says you should put aside water, food and a little cash"

-- Linkmeister (, July 02, 1999


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Y2K: Prepare early for a week of woes

State says you should put aside water, food and a little cash

By Ron Martz

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

Federal and state officials, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency are urging everyone to have a three- to five-day supply of food and water on hand and enough emergency supplies such as warm clothing, blankets, flashlights and an alternative heating source to tide them over should there be problems as a result of Y2K.

"You should be prepared for Y2K for three to five days just as you might be prepared for some other natural disaster. But the key is to prepare early and don't panic," said Donna Martin, Y2K manager for GEMA's Contingency Management Planning Team.


Federal and state governments have been working for years to try to solve the problem. But there are still a number of unknowns. Some tests of various systems in which the computers were pushed ahead to Jan. 1, 2000, have gone well. Others have been disastrous.

Among the more notable foul-ups was one two years ago at a Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. When the computers were rolled over to 2000, the security system shut down, not allowing anyone in or out of the building. In New Jersey earlier this year, food stamp recipients were given $30 million in unexpected credits when state officials ran a Y2K test. And in a suburb of Los Angeles in June, a Y2K test at a sewage treatment plant resulted in nearly three million gallons of raw sewage being dumped into a nearby park. That failed test prompted Los Angeles officials to indefinitely postpone a Y2K test at its sewage treatment plant, which is six times larger than the suburban facility.

Even office supply giant Office Depot has now agreed as part of the terms in settlement of a lawsuit to post signs at its checkout counters informing customers that their computers, software and other electronic products may not work properly after Dec. 31.

At the direction of Gov. Roy Barnes, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency is responsible for developing Y2K contingency plans for the entire state.

"We may have some interruptions,'' said Gary McConnell, director of GEMA, ''but from all indications they will be minor."

Some believe the problem will be far worse than government officials are admitting.

"If the state says three to five days (of problems), you can figure three to six months. The state is notorious for underestimating these things," said Tom Miller of Cedartown, who, along with wife, Sharon, runs an emergency supplies business known as Rainy Day Supply.

Started more than four years ago as a sideline for Sharon, Rainy Day Supply catered to "hunters and campers and the occasional gloom and doomers,:" Tom said. "But when Y2K came along last July and August, it was like an explosion hit."

Although business has tapered off in the last few months, the Millers believe it will pick up significantly as the end of the year approaches. What the Millers say they find interesting is that many of their customers include mid-level managers for public utilities and communications companies plus military personnel. Two Air Force officers each recently purchased a year's supply of food and emergency supplies, the Millers said.

"The customers who are coming in here and buying the most supplies are the ones who know that there are going to be problems," said Sharon.

The Millers are regulars at Y2K seminars and shows, as are Jason and Peggy Mead of Marietta. The Meads began stockpiling emergency supplies in the event of tornadoes or snowstorms four years ago. When people started asking them for advice, they turned it into a business they call ?RUREDE?

"I look at people in my neighborhood and they're not getting ready. But I think that's typical of people in Atlanta," Jason Mead said.

Ernie Reams, of Columbus, Miss., who runs a prepared foods business known as F&E Distribution, said stockpiling food for emergencies is a form of insurance and something of a lost art.

"We are the only generation who have not done it," said Reams as he stood behind stacks of prepared foods at a recent Y2K and gun show at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. "Our fathers did it and our grandfathers did it and our great-grandfathers did it. It was a form of insurance for them and that's the way people should look at it now."

And if nothing happens on Jan. 1, Reams said, "you can always eat it. It's the only form of insurance that gives you your money back."

"I would rather have it and not need it than not have it and need it," said Tom Miller.

State and federal officials look at preparations for Y2K, especially early preparations, much the same way. They and the wholesale distributors are recommending people prepare gradually, buying an extra can or two of food when they go to the grocery store and putting away bottled water for emergencies.

"We're not suggesting people go out and buy a whole big supply of anything," said GEMA's McConnell.

But early preparation will cut down on last minute-panic, hoarding and impulse buying said GEMA's Martin.

There are other concerns secondary to Y2K problems about which GEMA is trying to alert the public. Martin said there is concern that people who buy generators to supply heat and electricity in the event of a power outage may hook them up incorrectly and electrocute themselves or burn down their houses. People are canning foods and there is concern that if done improperly the process could produce botulism poisoning, she said.

And while most emergency preparedness officials are recommending people have a supply of cash on hand at the end of the year, officials are worried that those who have too much money at home could be vulnerable to home invasions.

Georgia's approach to the Y2K problem is similar to those of other nearby states. Alabama and Florida are basically following FEMA and Red Cross recommendations for disaster preparedness. Gov. Jeb Bush has put together Team Florida 2000 to coordinate efforts around the state, which plans public service announcements and a series of public forums over the next few months.

But in a state well-seasoned by hurricanes, wild fires and tornadoes, many long-time residents don't need to be told of the importance of preparation, said Jim Loftus, spokesman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

"The people who have experience with hurricanes don't have to be told twice what to do. It's the people who move to Florida from some other place and are not prepared we have to get the message out to," said Loftus.

McConnell believes Georgia is uniquely positioned to deal with any Y2K problems because of its efforts prior to the 1996 Olympics to prepare for any sort of disaster, natural or man-made, and because of the floods of 1994 and the blizzard of 1993.

"We have a distinct advantage over people in other states who have not prepared for these things or experienced them," McConnell said.


-- Linkmeister (, July 02, 1999.

What a JOKE ! Atlanta is going to crash and burn. Ko-skin-em told the govenor to be ready for three weeks without power. MORONS!

-- FLAME AWAY (, July 02, 1999.

Having only three to five days of extra water and food is too little, in my opinion. I do think it's significant, though, that some specific prep advice got published in the mainstream media, and that the two- to three-day figure is being moved away from.

-- Linkmeister (, July 02, 1999.

I was surprised by this too.

Interesting the disconnect (at the paper) between the abject failure, delays, and irresponsiblity of the City of Atlanta's preparation effort, those of Fulton county (which is around Atlanta - and doing moderately well, according to its former chairman - who has no poilitical reason to coverup facts about the current operations!), and these latest requirements from the state.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 02, 1999.

"City misses mark on computer bug" (Atlanta)

-- Linkmeister (, July 02, 1999.

Hmmmn. from that link (thank you!) and article: Atlanta "expects no problem from its 100 year old steam-driven water pump ..."

Where does the steam come from? Did the water department test its process: all sorts of things affected in other "power plants in that mess: from the oil tank (how much available, who supplies it, what if nat. gas?) to the regulator to the feed valve to the steam generator water level controller to the pump/speed regulator to the feed pump power supply system to the condenate pump or bypass valves .....

Obviously there are other backup pumps, right? Other units too. Have they been checked? Can't say they're bad, but if they have not been checked and tested......nobody else can assume they are good.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 02, 1999.

At least Georgia is a large, mostly rural and agrarian state which doesn't spend most days in January below freezing. Much less at, near or below zero at that!

WW: Who'd take his chances between Vidalia and Valdosta if being in Georgia was his option.

-- Wildweasel (, July 03, 1999.

The Journal went on to say (page c4, I think), that they (State of Georgia) were going to begin public service messages telling citizens to prepare. Will wait and see what they entail. Could be interesting.

-- Dian (, July 04, 1999.

It would make sense that the state is advising prep: =

"Georgia Begins $52 Million Computer Conversion"

-- Linkmeister (, July 13, 1999.

The whole idea of a "one size fits all" preparation timetable is idiotic. If there were even the least bit of thought behind it, it would be conditional -- like if you live in a moderate climate and rural, do this ...; if you live in a cold climate and in a large city, do this...; etc.

But, of course, that give people the idea that Y2K is actually a real problem that requires real action. Gee, what a concept.

-- King of Spain (, July 13, 1999.

The only ads presented so far have been "hurricane" warnings - ending though in the usual "two or three day" storm warning message. The speaker does emphasize the "state wide" impact of a hurricane (storm) but I can't see any way an up-state resident in the mountains is going to bother listening to any radio ad that begins with a warning about "storm surge".

You'd be waiting for a 1200 foot tidal wave to get his attention - before he'd bother noticing that the house down in the valley got its basement wet.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, July 13, 1999.

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