S.F. Bay Area: Contra Costa Says It's Ready For Y2K--Be Prepared Anyway, Planners Advise (San Francisco Chronicle)

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This probably really is bonafide Y2K good news.

Contra Costa County is one of the more progressive in the State of California, paying early attention to Y2K issues and potential impacts. Unfortunately, nearby counties, were not so vigilant.


Contra Costa Says It's Ready for Y2K
Be prepared anyway, planners advise
Jason B. Johnson, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 1999
)1999 San Francisco Chronicle


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Representatives of the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office and other local government agencies who met yesterday to review their Y2K emergency plans said they are ready for the new year.

``We feel good with what we're doing,'' said Eric Imhof, senior emergency planning coordinator for the Office of Emergency Services. ``We're not anticipating a disaster, but we live in California, and we prepare for disasters all the time.''

The county began preparing for Y2K in 1995, making sure that vital support services would work properly and developing a plan for responding to potential emergencies in the 72 hours after the beginning of the new year.

The county has more than 1,200 police officers who can be called on if needed. Most local police and fire departments will keep extra units on duty.

Imhof suggested that people assemble a ``preparedness kit'' with extra supplies of food, batteries, blankets and other essentials in case there are problems with electricity or other services in their area.

While most people think of computer failures when it comes to potential Y2K problems, human beings -- like drunken drivers or rowdy partygoers -- pose a more serious threat, officials said.

``It's the unticketed events where you have a problem, where you have people partying in the streets and drinking,'' said mutual aid coordinator Jerry Brady.

The Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services coordinates activity for entities ranging from local police and fire departments to the American Red Cross, Contra Costa County Crisis Center, California Department of Transportation and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

In the Emergency Services headquarters, a wall-sized status board lists cities ranging from Antioch to Walnut Creek, with columns reserved for the number of injured and dead. Other columns identify the number of homes, vehicles and businesses damaged or destroyed.

The board is now blank, and officials said they doubt any widespread disasters will occur after the clock strikes midnight December 31.

The Y2K problem refers to potential glitches caused by many old computer programs that use two digits to indicate years.

Such programs cannot distinguish between the years 2000 and 1900. Unless they are updated, these systems could malfunction.

A mobile command center housed inside a 36-foot-long camper will be available for police emergencies, fires or major accidents.

``This we would take out to a scene,'' Brady said of the mobile command center, which looks like a space-age Winnebago with its computerized command console and multiple scanners.

``No one likes to sit in an office miles away from where the thing is happening,'' said Brady. ``You want to be at the scene to be able to see it, smell it, touch it.''

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999

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