Authorities worry about Y2K worriers : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


By WILLIAM PETROSKI Register Staff Writer 12/20/1999

State and local officials are concerned that Y2K panic could be worse than any technical glitches caused by the millennium computer bug.

Steps are being taken by government agencies and businesses statewide to reassure Iowans they will survive Jan. 1 and beyond, regardless of what happens.

Opinion polls have shown rising public confidence that Y2K problems will be largely fixed by the end of December. Officials remain concerned about possible public panic, because doomsayers have predicted potential problems for months. Such worst-case scenarios range from meltdowns of nuclear power plants to civil unrest and riots if power, water and phone services are lost.

The Year 2000 technology issue has arisen because some older software could interpret 2000 as 1900 and malfunction if repairs are not made. Business and government leaders throughout Iowa said they are confident critical services will operate normally, although there could be unforeseen disruptions.

The Iowa Division of Emergency Management plans to operate a rumor control center at Camp Dodge in Johnston on Dec. 31 to track down rumors and unconfirmed news reports and sift out the truth, said Administrator Ellen Gordon.

"This is a means for us to monitor what is being said throughout the state, both through the media and what citizens are calling in and asking us," Gordon said. "Then we will be going to the media and telling them if it is fact or fiction."

Polk County officials will have an Internet site to provide the public with continual updates on Y2K developments in the Des Moines area after midnight on New Year's Eve.

"If there is something going on, we will let them know. If there is nothing going on, we will let them know that, too," said Bob Goldhammer, Polk County emergency management coordinator.

The federal government also plans to offer a Y2K Internet site. The Web site will provide state-by-state information during the date rollover period, said Abigail Smith, a spokeswoman for the President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion.

At Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines,spital staff will be available in a crisis center to take calls from any Iowans suffering anxiety relating to the date rollover and the end of the millennium,said Chief Operating Officer Larry Schumacher.

Hy-Vee Foods, which operates 100 grocery stores throughout Iowa, expects an uneventful evening on New Year's Eve, said spokeswoman Ruth Mitchell. The grocery chain has obtained extra stocks of about 35 items in case consumers start buying large quantities of products in the final days of 1999, she said.

The list includes items such as bottled water, flashlight batteries, canned goods, toilet tissue, baby formula, diapers and peanut butter.

Des Moines Police Chief William Moulder said one of his biggest Y2K concerns is that some residents will withdraw too much cash from their bank accounts and become robbery victims. He also is concerned about unscrupulous people who may use the date rollover to attempt Y2K scams.

Scott Wood, a Drake University psychology professor, believes a Y2K panic in late December may not be realized. The public already has wrung its hands so much over the issue that people may not start worrying again in the final days of 1999, he said.

"The thing that I have recognized is the increase in positive news coverage about solutions to this problem," Wood said. "It has gone from, 'Oh, my God, the world is going to end' to 'We have this well in hand.' From what we are reading and seeing on television, there is minimal concern."

Although Iowans have an ingrained habit of clearing grocery shelves of milk and bread as snowstorms approach, Wood suspects that might not happen leading up to New Year's Eve.

"One of the differences between a snowstorm and Y2K is that we have seen Y2K coming for a long, long time," Wood said. "This may be a phenomenon that has largely passed. It is kind of like the stock market is always discounting today's news because people made their purchases or sales yesterday."

On the WebThe Polk County "Y2K Control Center" Internet site is

-- y2k dave (, December 20, 1999


This is what I get for have the flu. Bold off.

-- y2k dave (, December 20, 1999.

bold off.

"The corruption of a society can be measured by the number of its laws" --Tacitus

-- Cherokee (, December 20, 1999.

y2k dave,

So why worry now? Those who were worried, are now prepared. Those who were not worried are still not worried. Spin has worked beautifully. (Let's hear a round of applause for our y2k czar and and "let's give Israel's peace oh I mean land away for peace" president).

Those of us who are prepared are writing out Christmas cards and having a lovely time sitting around our woodburning stoves having hot cocoa. Of course we are ready for just about any ol winter storm be it 3 days or 3 weeks. Cozy, grateful, happy and content. Oh my, I'm starting to sound like one of those y2k crazy women! It's time for a government file on me, another cup of cocoa and a hug from hubby :)

May God help us all,

-- Tess (, December 20, 1999.


I agree with you 100%. I have been ask several time lately whether or not I'm worried about y2k. My answer is no because I am prepared and can enjoy the new year. Ask about my plans for new years eve, I inform people that I plan to be out looking for drunken revelers.

-- y2k dave (, December 20, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

Oh my, I'm starting to sound like one of those y2k crazy women!

Hey! I resemble that remark!

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), December 20, 1999.

Frightening, or re-assuring plans to control information?

Do you trust them, or reply on them?

< "This is a means for us to monitor what is being said throughout the state, both through the media and what citizens are calling in and asking us," Gordon said. "Then we will be going to the media and telling them if it is fact or fiction." >>

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, December 27, 1999.

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