Metro Detroiters stock up for possible Y2k problems : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Metro Detroiters stock up for possible Y2K problems Trend worries some who see spending drop in January

By Kim Kozlowski and Edward L. Cardenas / The Detroit News

MADISON HEIGHTS -- From bottled water to generators, Metro Detroiters are stocking up on all sorts of goods in case the worst happens when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, 1999. Consider David Sneath of Livonia. He has bought 275 pounds of meat, several cases of water and chopped up enough wood for his fireplace to fill about half of his garage. Sneath, who describes himself as an outdoorsman, Christian and good Boy Scout, said he's prepared to take care of his wife and two kids for at least two weeks should something catastrophic occur. "I'm not one of those extremists," Sneath said. "But everyone thinks we live in a world where nothing ever could go wrong. What if there is a problem?" Y2K preparations were one of the priorities for several shoppers Sunday at the Costco Wholesale store in Madison Heights. The store was packed with shoppers buying in bulk for the holidays and as part of their Y2K preparations. Lynne Newman of Huntington Woods bought cases of water to have on hand when the millennium rolls over. "I saw someone on television from the water department who said to have extra water," she said. Norman Pokley of Washington Township bought a generator at Costco. After losing his power in a number of snow and rain storms, and the possibility of having his power knocked out by Y2K-related computer problems, he decided it was time to buy a generator. "I live in the woods and might not have the undivided attention I want if the power goes out," said Pokley, a dentist. Newman, Pokley and others stocking up for Y2K worry several economists. If people spend all their money now on preparing for a possible emergency, they won't have much money to spend in the first few months of the year 2000, which would weaken the economy, they said. But other economists say diminished buying power will be offset by the economic prosperity this past year in Michigan that will be passed on to consumers. They also point to surveys, including one taken by The Detroit News, that show most people aren't making special preparations for the arrival of 2000. "Every day, we face situations where the system could fail because of overload," said David Littmann, chief economist of Comerica Bank. "But the probability is so low and so remote that it does not pose a problem for the economy."

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 15, 1999



Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Stop signs are Y2K backups Old standbys can serve if Troy signals freeze

Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News

Troy has installed stop signs at busy intersections -- such as this one at eastbound Long Lake and Coolidge -- just in case the Y2K computer bug cuts the power supply and knocks out traffic signals at major intersections.

By Nicole Bondi / The Detroit News

TROY -- It's a modern, high-tech problem with an old-fashioned solution. In case the traffic lights don't work when the calendar flips to 2000, Troy has installed stop signs at about 40 major intersections. And if the phones and electricity go out Jan. 1, Birmingham Public Schools will raise a yellow flag outside any school that won't be open. "We don't anticipate any problems regarding Y2K, but this is just to cover the minuscule possibility that something might happen, with Detroit Edison and the power or with our computer signals. It's just a precaution," said John Abraham, Troy's traffic engineer. The stop signs went up this week, covered with black plastic bags. Crews will be on hand New Year's Eve to remove the bags if needed. Workers also will put up barriers that night along major boulevards, such as Big Beaver and Rochester, to eliminate through traffic. All vehicles will have to turn right and use the turn-arounds to get across the intersections. The Road Commission for Oakland County also is preparing for possible traffic-signal trouble. Lights at about 20 key intersections will be powered by gas generators if required. The commission also purchased extra stop signs and plans to put them up Jan. 1 if traffic signals aren't working. Abraham said other cities across the country also are erecting backup stop signs at major intersections. Troy bought the stop signs specifically for Y2K, but plans to use them afterward to replace old and worn signs. Traffic rules say that if a light isn't working, drivers should treat the intersection as a four-way stop. The signs will just reinforce that rule, Abraham said. Some school systems have plans to let parents and children know about possible school closings. Birmingham will run up a yellow flag outside any building that won't open as scheduled Jan. 3. Berkley plans to use city and school marquees and post signs in front of schools if they close. "We were just looking for some way we could get people that information in the event we couldn't use telephones," said Carol Marsh, community information specialist for Birmingham Public Schools. "Our main concern now would be if there's a large power outage, things we don't have control over. It is certainly our intent to be business as usual."

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 15, 1999.

Mr. Sneath might think that he is not one of "those extremists", but now he is. The slightest move in the direction of preparedness places him squarely in the grocery-happy gun-toting survivalists which the mainstream media have been gleefully bashing for the past year. Middle ground is not allowed in Y2k, unfortunately.

In the next couple weeks, the majority of Americans will suddenly find themselves doing the things that those wackos have been doing, elbowing each other aside while they grab packages of pasta, loudly denying that they are doing anything unusual at all.

It's heartening to see SOMETHING happening before 12/31, but it's sad to see our predictions of the past two years coming true before us. With only a little real leadership, the whole country could have been prepped by now. With a moderate investment, we could all be sitting back, watching the clock tick down, with our full pantries protecting us from shocks to JIT. It was always a no-brainer that at SOME point rational people would prepare for a foreseeable problem; the question was always WHEN they would see it.

The pollies exult over every failed prediction, as if our not predicting a failure's date was more important than their inability to foresee it. But one prediction has come true: Most people have done nothing at all, and so they will do all their preps in the next two weeks. Very sad.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), December 15, 1999.

Michigans' economy will have to compete with ecommerce after the roll over. It's been strongly predicted ecommerce is the economies reboot. A local business in my area won't see me for a CD. I'm already situating myself within ecommerce as a consumer stronger than I have ever done before. For instance, Columbia House (club) is offering 12 CD's with sign up online, buy one more at 7 and recieve two more for free thus totally 15 CD's for 7 bucks and one doesn't have to prepay. I was there this morning for an hour picking and selecting for myself. If the post office is delayed for two weeks, so what? I'll eventually recieve them and I am not endangering myself making my way through the riots of pollies or having to get by troops.

-- Paula (, December 15, 1999.


Newman, Pokley and others stocking up for Y2K worry several economists. If people spend all their money now on preparing for a possible emergency, they won't have much money to spend in the first few months of the year 2000, which would weaken the economy, they said.


Unbelievable!! (Actually it really isn't - I'd believe just about anything now). That retarded comment just about says it all. I think I'll send it to Duh 2000.

-- Clyde (, December 15, 1999.

I just kinda wonder a teeny bit about Dr. Pokley...He only has "several cases" of water, yet purchased 275 lbs. of meat??? How about some rice to go along with that?

-- No Polly (, December 15, 1999.

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