Basement stockpiles grow as Y2K edges closer : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This is probably more typical of what alot of people are doing to prepare for y2k. LINK

Posted November 21, 1999
By Rick Smith
Gazette staff writer

CEDAR RAPIDS -- Tim Mounts says he's seen them in the aisles at the Wal-Marts and the grocery stores: the couples piloting shopping carts, full to bursting with canned goods, bottled water and other provisions.

"You must have a big family?" Mounts, minding his own packed carts, has offered at times.

"Uh-huh," has come the typical, unconvincing reply.

No one, Mounts says, wants to admit to stocking up for the arrival of 2000 -- the moment termed Y2K when problems may surface if some computers, programmed to read calendar years in only the last two digits, think 1900 has arrived and not 2000.

Admitting in public to stockpiling is akin to being a kook, Mounts says. "It's a dirty word, like saying masturbation or something," he says.

The proof, though, is at the checkout counters, he says, where people are buying Y2K flashlights and Y2K water and Y2K all-the-rest.

"They're selling because more people are preparing than are talking," Mounts says. "In all the polls, the people who are preparing are the extreme minority. But I think the ones preparing are in the extreme majority."

He concedes he is preparing more than most but suspects most who are preparing are just like him.

This 28-year-old southeast Cedar Rapids man is no survivalist. No mountain man or militia member. No conspiracy theorist.

And he doesn't fear a meltdown at the Duane Arnold Energy Center's nuclear plant at Palo like the meltdown featured in a made-for-TV movie, "Y2K," that airs on NBC-TV this evening.

No, Mounts is a regular Joe, an at-home-working computer consultant with a wife who is a full-time chemist.

He's a regular family man, too, mixing work with child-care duties so his 14-month-old daughter and another set to arrive in December don't need day care.

All he's done, he says, is taken steps to make sure his daughters will be comfortable no matter what the new year brings.

And after all, government officials and emergency planners have been suggesting for months that people prepare for any Y2K computer-related glitches as they might for a winter storm.

Ned Wright, director of Linn County Emergency Management, says people should be ready for an emergency of three days. They should have some water, food and blankets at home and some in their vehicle. "It's not because of Y2K," Wright says. "We do this every year. We've always had this (suggestion) out there, but now people are starting to pay attention."

He insists that government, utilities, banks and businesses have been checking computers and modifying and replacing them for the last couple of years.

"Everything we've done to prepare for this has been done," he says. "If this is Armageddon . . . nothing I'm going to do is going to make any difference. But anything short of that, we're ready for it."

Just in case, though, Wright and other emergency officials will be at their stations Dec. 31.

By then, Tim Mounts should be all set.

Mounts doesn't have a fireplace but he's already stacked an old coal storage room in his cellar with wood. He'll burn it in his century-old furnace, now fired by natural gas, if the electricity and the gas fail Jan. 1. In another basement corner, he's laid in two months' supply of canned food, diapers, baby formula and bottles of boiled water to make the formula. There's a freezer full of meat, eggs and milk, and he's buying a tank of propane so he can fire up an old stove.

He also has purchased 40-gallon plastic drums to turn into makeshift septic tanks if the water system fails and he can't flush the toilet. He has an ax and saws to cut trees and hand tools to build an outhouse if it comes to that.

He's amassed books and board games in case the TV and stereo go, and he's bought two new liners, untreated with chemicals, for his water beds so he can sleep and store water at the same time.

The water bed-as-home-reservoir idea came from the Internet site of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he notes.

Mounts concedes he's gone further than even his wife would have gone. But he expects power interruptions and, perhaps, disruptions in getting products to warehouses and from there to stores.

More than that, though, he is most worried about a panic when unprepared people hurry to grocery stores at the last minute and find no milk or bread.

Just such an experience occurred last winter, he says, after TV weathermen predicted a winter storm.

"At that time I took note," Mounts recalls. "I said, `Iowans, what's going on?' They have snowstorms every year. In the middle of Cedar Rapids, did people really think they were going to starve to death?"

Some months ago, he began taking Y2K seriously. He's studied, trying to separate truths from extremists. And there are some of the latter, he concedes.

`'They've got bomb shelters and automatic weapons," Mounts chuckles. "They're planning on looters bleeding on their steps. They really do believe that Y2K is going to be something where they might even be confronting their own military."

He says his own Y2K preparedness is fueled by his skepticism of pronouncements from government officials and his experience fixing computers.

Many, he says, think multitudes of failing computers all can be fixed in an instant.

He says he knows better.

Linn County's Wright is brimming with confidence that Y2K disruptions will be minimal, perhaps non-existent. His biggest job, he says, will be calming fears that he suspects the media will help fuel as the end of the year nears.

Come Monday, in fact, he will start reassuring people that tonight's NBC movie about nuclear meltdown can't happen.

"We're going to have to put a lot of effort out to tell people that this is Hollywood," he says.

"We're trying to keep the public calm, and telling them to enjoy the New Year's celebrations and don't get stupid," Wright says. "This will pass, the sun will come up tomorrow and we'll get on with it."

Mounts remains skeptical.

He hopes people see in him a reminder to not wait until the last minute to make at least minimal emergency preparations.

He figures he's out a couple hundred dollars for wood and propane if the new year arrives without a hitch.

The upside is that the rest of the winter will be a breeze.

Any time one of his daughters needs formula or diapers, or any time he and his wife need chicken noodle soup or hamburger, he can head select from his plentiful stocks.

"Think of all the times you have to run to the store for something," he says. "I won't have to deal with those stresses."

-- y2k dave (, November 23, 1999


a FREEZER full of meat?????? Is he going to move it outside and open the door??


-- Taz (, November 23, 1999.

A freezer full of meat eh? Well I hope he buys a GENERATOR and gets some GASOLINE to make sure that the freezer full of meat doesnt go bad if the power goes off!Unless of course he plans on putting the meat in some sort of container and setting it outside in the cold air! Cheryl

-- Cheryl D. Guy (, November 23, 1999.

Dave, That is a very good post. I for one enjoyed it. I think the key phrase that the Government will try to fall back on as a warning is "prepare for a winter storm". Now didn't we hear a while back that we could expect more and more severe storms. Thank you, and take care, HH.

-- The Happy Hoarder (, November 23, 1999.

Whats wrong with a freezer full of meat? I've got one too. Iowa is not too unlike Wisconsin in winter climate. I lose power and the meat goes into coolers in the garage or backyard storage shed. BELIEVE me it will keep till March no problem. In the meantime we'll just eat a lot of steak!

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), November 23, 1999.

"Everything we've done to prepare for this has been done," he says. "If this is Armageddon . . . nothing I'm going to do is going to make any difference. But anything short of that, we're ready for it."

That's my sentiments exactly.....

-- Duke1983 (, November 23, 1999.

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