L.A. Bunkers down for the rollover

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From http://www.dailynewslosangeles.com/extra/today/new05.asp

Officials say L.A. well-prepared for Y2K

By Troy Anderson, Staff Writer

They are called the "B Platoon." Stationed four floors below City Hall East, they are the 911 fire dispatchers scheduled to work New Year's Day, when city officials say they expect either the "greatest party of the century" or "doomsday." From an underground bunker -- with six-inch steel doors, power generators and enough food and water for a week -- these men and women will answer 911 calls and dispatch firefighters when the clock rolls over to the Y2K zero hour. Although Los Angeles city and county officials have spent $265 million fixing Y2K computer glitches and are confident of a smooth entry into the new century, the B Platoon is just one sign they have prepared for the worst.

Los Angeles city officials plan to boost police manpower and have thousands of workers on hand for the millennium rollover weekend. In the Y2K bunker, 22 firefighter-dispatchers have the dubious honor of being B Platoon -- working on what they call a blue calendar day, from 6:30 a.m. Dec. 31, 1999, to 6:30 a.m. Jan. 1, 2000. "They know that in a minute's notice the city could go to Hades in a handbasket," said Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. However, "our dispatch staff are not rattled easily." "I told them to prepare for doomsday and to bring a sack lunch," he joked.

Firefighter-dispatcher John Ferrer said he doesn't expect chaos but has made preparations -- including packing his motor home with supplies -- to ensure the safety of his wife and six children. "But I personally don't expect anything unusual to happen. It's going to be business as usual here," he said. Next door, police dispatchers also will work a similar shift. And down the hall at the city disaster headquarters, officials plan to fill 70-plus chairs.

"I believe human behavior may create more problems than technology because most of those problems will have been corrected by then," said Andrew Lowkis, the city emergency preparedness coordinator. Because of different time zones, Los Angeles will have warning as the Y2K zero hour hits New Zealand and then New York. "Whenever you have a natural disaster, since it happens unexpectedly, it always takes several hours to get organized," said Frank Martinez, executive director of the city's Y2K project. "This gives us a great advantage of getting prepared."

Los Angeles city and county officials say a recent U.S. Government Accounting Office report about the state of Y2K readiness in Los Angeles is unfair. The report lists Los Angeles as among large U.S. cities that won't be Y2K ready until between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. Only Boston and Dallas are ready. Members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem said those cities waiting until October and December are living in a "fantasy world" and won't be ready in time. Martinez said Los Angeles expects to have all the bugs fixed in time. "I know from a county point of view, when I talk to our colleagues in the state's 58 counties, they feel they are ready," said Los Angeles County Chief Information Officer Jon Fullinwider. Los Angeles city technicians expect all glitches to be fixed by Sept. 30.

Problems surfaced recently in the city wastewater treatment operation when millions of gallons of raw sewage flooded Woodley Avenue Park in the Sepulveda Basin. Martinez expects those computer systems to be fixed by November. "We are fully confident we can operate those plants in a manual mode if necessary," he said.

Of most importance to people, Martinez said regional power, water and sewer entities have informed him those services will work on New Year's Day and beyond. Likewise, telephones, cellular telephones and 911 emergency dispatch systems are expected to work. Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Commanding Officer Mark Leap, who is in charge of Y2K planning efforts, said the department will have more than 4,000 officers and 2,000 in "ready reserve" to respond to incidents connected with New Year's Eve parties, computer failures, rolling blackouts and suppression of people shootings guns into the air. "This is probably three times the number of officers we normally have on duty," he said.

-- jjbeck (jjbeck@recycler.com), September 21, 1999


Does any Y2K G.I. really believe that L.A. will have significant city water supplies during January 2000? Remember how most of them currently originate hundreds of miles away. My understanding is that conventional local water supplies there are only enough for what, 30,000 people? Without water, everyone soon dies. All the assurances and apologies you can imagine from business majors in suits won't change that. About the prospects for L.A. residents in 2000; I wouldn't sell them life insurance, even if it was payable in fiat scrip (and it is, isn't it?).

My site: www.y2ksafeminnesota.com

-- MinnesotaSmith (y2ksafeminnesota@hotmail.com), September 21, 1999.

(1) Immediately after the last major earthquake in the region, drinking water was in VERY short supply...but a lot was trucked in within a couple of days. We were some miles from the epicenter, but had to boil water for a couple of days.

(2) 6 inch thick steel doors. Wow! I've got to upgrade my bunker!

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), September 21, 1999.

And they call us paranoid for having little bombshelters. 6" steel doors?! Why? One pissed off terrorist with a surplus RPG-7 or LAW and that door is easily penetrated (both are older antitank weapons that can penetrate 12+ " of steel).

Maybe they better have the city council and mayor hunker down there, with 500 cops and SWAT defending their sorry butts.

-- BIll (billclo@msgbox.com), September 22, 1999.

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