Red Cross Seeking Shelters for Y2k : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Here's a front page article quoting a Red Cross representative who hasn't been to spin class.

Lack of shelters for Y2K worries Red Cross

Wednesday, December 8, 1999 By Tom Gromak JOURNAL STAFF WRITER -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Red Cross officials worry local residents won't have enough places to find shelter should a Y2K disaster hit Genesee and Lapeer counties. The organization's local chapter is scrambling to find sites to be used as emergency shelters for people who lose power, water or heat if there is a major utility failure in the new year.

"We're not prepared if the whole county goes out. We don't have enough shelters if all of Lapeer and Genesee counties go out," said Red Cross official Jerry Guzick, who has been working feverishly to find shelters in Lapeer County.

The Lapeer-Genesee chapter of the Red Cross has secured 17 sites in Lapeer County to be used as emergency locations and 86 sites in Genesee County.

Just one site in Lapeer County and two in Genesee County - both in Flint - are equipped with generators.

Red Cross disaster specialist Edie Smith of the Flint office said the organization still is seeking places in Genesee County, but said generators and generator-equipped sites are hard to find.

"There are generators out there, but the city wants them all for their facilities," she said. "Until the day Jerry quits, we're going to be continuously looking and I have another man here in Flint that's doing the same thing here."

The Red Cross is relying mostly on churches - their kitchens make them attractive - and on service club halls, municipal facilities and schools. The four pages of paperwork to secure the buildings and work out liability issues is also a burden, say officials, but many well-intentioned organizations have tried to help.

Metamora Township emergency preparedness director George Sivertson said he has found little time to coordinate with the Red Cross, but he plans to.

The township recently replaced a failed generator with one purchased from the old Lapeer County Jail. It has bought cots, blankets and pillows - not for Y2K, but for general emergency preparedness for winter storms, tornados and other disasters.

Smith hopes more organizations come forward to help. But she concedes a large-scale system failure would spell disaster because powerless churches, halls and schools would be useless, and the two or three generator-equipped sites can hold only so many people.

"I am banking on only minor grids being out, or minor streets or blocks being out," Smith said. "If everything on Dort Highway was dead, we would go to Center Road or Fenton Road where they might still have power. We don't know what's going to be out, if anything, so we will wait and see."

Power company officials insist they're ready.

Meeting at a Y2K-readiness meeting Tuesday in Lapeer County's Emergency Operations Center, representatives of Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy said they achieved Y2K readiness in mid-summer. Both companies are in the final phases of compliance testing and are confident their systems will function.

But there is a caveat:

"While we fully expect there will be little or no interruption of service due to Y2K, we can't guarantee uninterrupted service," said Consumers Energy spokesman Kevin Keane.

Keane said the company has more to fear from New Year's Eve itself: snowstorms, ice storms and drunken drivers striking utility poles, all of which could cause minor power failures on Jan. 1.

Smith urges residents to be prepared on New Year's, a theme the Red Cross has pitched for more than a year.

"You've got to be prepared ... just like for a tornado or a flood," she said. "You've got to be able to be self-sustaining for the first six or eight hours of any disaster."

Tom Gromak covers Lapeer County. He can be reached at (810) 766-6365.

-- Brian Bretzke (, December 08, 1999


Sorry to repeat thread Homer...Great minds think alike!

-- Brian Bretzke (, December 08, 1999.

Keane said the company has more to fear from New Year's Eve itself: snowstorms, ice storms and drunken drivers striking utility poles, all of which could cause minor power failures on Jan. 1.

Hmmm. This must be the party line now. It's the only explanation - I've been to Community Conversations in two separate locations, and heard the power company reps speak at both. Also, I've heard the power company rep from my area speak at another meeting. THEY ALL SAID THE EXACT SAME THING.

Could it be that NERC or EEI has put out a suggested "talking points" communique to the industry?

Nah. Couldn't be. Could it? Or co

-- Nom (nom@de.plume), December 08, 1999.

What really upsets me about this post is that the two counties mentioned are moderate size in Michigan. In the largest counties (Oakland, Wayne & Macomb) nothing has been said about shelters. The only thing mentioned in the local papers is that the utilities are ready! If medium size counties are having a difficult time finding adequate shelters, can you imagine the problem with the very large populated counties?

-- Ruth Edwards (, December 08, 1999.

6 or 8 hours????

Oh great, I've just lost my long holiday weekend.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, December 09, 1999.

Shelters only work for a large body of people in a single disaster that occurs locally. Then other communities pitch in and shelter victims outside of the disaster area. That works like during the fires here in florida two years ago. However, a disaster affecting all cities and counties all at once can not seek help from anyone. Not possible. Forget shelters, no way.

-- Susan Barrett (, December 09, 1999.

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