Y2K glitch won't bring doom, but don't rest easy, towns told Friday

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Y2K glitch won't bring doom, but don't rest easy, towns told Friday, November 19, 1999 By HERB JACKSON Trenton Bureau The Record Online


ATLANTIC CITY -- Cataclysmic predictions of airplanes falling from the sky, monthlong power outages, and shortages of food and medicine caused by the "Y2K bug" are hyperbolic myths, but the transition from 1999 to 2000 does pose a danger, mayors convening here were warned Thursday.

"Maybe we overdosed on the hype of imminent doom and gloom, but now we've gone too far in the other direction," said David Grubb, executive director of the municipal liability insurance pool.

"We now recognize we're not facing a problem of biblical proportions, but there's almost too much complacency, and people are acting as if what might happen will be of no concern at all."

A panel of Y2K experts, including several from Bergen County, told about 100 people attending the state League of Municipalities convention to be prepared for a broad range of problems caused by computers that have trouble understanding that a year ending in "00" comes after "99."

People should be prepared for the possibility of sporadic power outages, loss of phone service, and disruption in water and sewage service, officials said.

In addition to making sure their own computers are able to cope with the change of dates and that all data is backed up in case something is overlooked, mayors were told to make sure they have plans to communicate with residents in the event of a Y2K glitch.

"It's going to be a very poor excuse to have to tell people you really didn't think anything was going to happen," said Sgt. Paul Einreinfoer of the Bergen County Police. "You should already be in the remediation and retesting phase for your own equipment, and if you're not, you should be in the reconfiguring-your-resume phase."

Einreinfoer, who is a communications specialist in the county emergency management division, said the floods and telephone service disruption caused by Tropical Storm Floyd in September demonstrated the kinds of problems authorities could face.

He said state police had to send a radio up to Bergen County by helicopter after the flood so state and county authorities could communicate, and Oakland police sent officers into Suffern, N.Y., to use pay phones because local calls could not go through.

Ridgewood Administrator Larry Worth, who heads the league's Y2K task force, said that after Floyd knocked out phone service, village officials advised residents of what was going on through a newsletter that was distributed in churches, shopping centers, and anywhere else people were gathering that weekend.

Worth said local officials should already have emergency management plans to deal with each of the potential problems that could be caused by the Y2K bug, but he said they have to make sure the plans are up to date.

Grubb said that while governments and businesses around the world have been working to upgrade their computers, tests of upgrades have uncovered glitches.

He described how an insurance company that tested its system by setting computer dates forward to 2000 accidentally triggered a program that told Arizona's motor vehicle agency many of its customers had no auto insurance because policies had expired. The problem was discovered when the state started canceling people's driver's licenses.

"The point here is to expect things to happen that nobody anticipated," Grubb said.


-- ExCop (yinadral@juno.com), November 22, 1999


Here's a town that "get's it"


-- just wondering (what.it.is@about.com), November 22, 1999.


Thanks for posting this interesting article.

Stan Faryna

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-- Stan Faryna (faryna@groupmail.com), November 22, 1999.

Yeah, I read that piece Sat or Sunday. I especially liked:

****"You should already be in the remediation and retesting phase for your own equipment, and if you're not, you should be in the reconfiguring-your-resume phase." ****

I've been a cop in one of the largest towns in that county for years (there are 71 towns) and with a small exception--I'd guess about 10%, the towns DGI, NOT EVEN CLOSE. I was plesantly supprised that 6 towns banded together (one of the towns to include where I LIVE, NOT WORK) to send residents in all 6 towns a combined "prep pamphlet" that even included the TB2000 website and suggested buying Yourdan's Book. I rewrote an early draft (2 months ago) for the town I work in- -the town fathers NOT ONLY refused to include websites, but didn't even mail out the pamphlet--just added the info to their 2x annual "look how great we are" newsletter...

I had a quote by Ben Franklin in the pamphlet as symbolic for helping your neighbor (we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately)--you know what the reaction from one of the braintrusts was??? "Get rid of the quote, I've never like *HIM* (Franklin) since the key incident" (lightening experiments).

With government leaders like that, give me martial law.

-- JO (HisDishonr@aol.com), November 22, 1999.

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