Lay in Y2K provisions, Durham urges residentsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Lay in Y2K provisions, Durham urges residents
Associated Press DURHAM -- As the year 2000 dawns in Durham County, residents are advised to keep military-style ready-to-eat on hand, store up gold and silver coins, buy a portable chemical toilet and install a cistern to collect rainwater.
The warnings of a survivalist group or prophet of the Apocalypse? No, this list comes straight from the county government.
The advice can be found on the county's official Internet Web site, co.durham.nc.us/pub1/y2k/, under the heading "Citizen Y2K Information Kit."
The warnings have some experts in Y2K readiness clucking their tongues.
Dale Vecchio, who has been tracking year 2000 issues for the past five years for the Gartner Group, a leading computer consulting company, said from his office in St. Louis that Durham County's Web site is "probably as extreme as I've seen."
"There is a delicate balance between ensuring your citizenry are informed," he said, "and inducing behavior that makes the matter worse. One of the concerns that we have is that people's actions in anticipation of failure will create a bigger problem than the failures themselves."
"I think this is interesting reading," said Ilse Fogl, director of the N.C. Year 2000 Project Office, "but I think they should have realized that some people could be scared and that some people could overreact. I truly would not want somebody to read this and think it was needed because of the year 2000, because I don't believe that it will be."
Fogl, who advises that residents prepare as they would for a moderate winter storm, said many of the suggestions on the county site seemed "survivalist-oriented."
Deborah Craig-Ray, director of public information for the county, whose office runs the Web site, disagreed.
"That might be her interpretation," she said of Fogl. "Our goal was simply to pull information that might be available to us.
"I'm happy that people have seen the site. I hope that they have prepared for their families. We as a county feel we are fully prepared."
In fact, the suggestions on the Web site have been toned down from an earlier version. It had included proposals for keeping vaccinations for typhoid and cholera ready in case public sanitation falls apart, stockpiling chocolate and cigarettes for barter and obtaining a solar oven.
"The tone of this information was not a survivalist tone, even without the change," Craig-Ray said.
The county tried to clarify its intent in a statement posted on the site last week.
"It is suggested," the Web site states, "that you spend a little more money and time, and get or do some things that will make you less dependent on electric utilities, supermarkets, commercial entertainment, health `delivery systems,' global financial networks and the rest, so that Y2K or no Y2K, you may have a little more peace and quiet in your life."
Durham city and county officials have said repeatedly that they don't expect any major problems because of the Y2K bug. The city, for example, has recently completed installing new computer systems in both its wastewater treatment plants, which also can be run manually.
County leaders largely defended the information posted on the Web site.
"I think it's very lighthearted in the way it's presented and just some things that people want to consider," said County Manager David Thompson. "I don't think it's presenting a major disaster."
-- Roland (email@example.com), December 20, 1999
The link in the article is not correct. This one will get you there...
-- Roland (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 20, 1999.
-- David Webb (email@example.com), December 20, 1999.
I don't see any mention of MRE's or storing gold. Maybe they've modified the page, but this article appeared in the Charlotte Observer today.
I did find their community prep page interesting, however. A snippet:
"Situations the Community Might Encounter
Business Failures Conservative estimates are that 5% of U.S. businesses might fail as a result of the Y2K computer problem. Those are very conservative. Many are suggesting a much higher percentage. Failures could cross the entire range of business size, from major corporations that started too late to deal with the Y2K problem, down to small businesses that never thought they needed to do anything to prepare.
All businesses, no matter what their size, are dependent on customers and suppliers. If they can't buy, or provide, the business is affected, no matter how Y2K ready it might be. The domino effect could be devastating. What can our community do to minimize these problems? How can we prepare to deal with those in our community who are affected by business closures? Businesses have a vested interest in maintaining the health and stability of their community. It does no good if they're Y2K-compliant and the community isn't.
Large Scale Unemployment If local businesses go under, people in our community suffer lay-offs and financial hardship. If we have large-scale unemployment, what should we do? Help new businesses start up? Re-train people in skills less dependent on computers and computer driven businesses? Set up community service programs using the skills of those who have lost their jobs due to Y2K? (For those of you who remember the Depression, these would be local equivalents of the CCC and WPA.)
School Closures Lack of electricity and gas, or inability to pay teachers and staff, could lead to closures of schools for a period of time. In fact many are seriously proposing that schools plan to be closed for the first two weeks in January, 2000. Is there anything the community can do to prevent the need to close schools? If they do close, are there plans we need to make in advance so that the well-being of our students is assured, and that activities are found for them during this time? If parents have to stay home to look after their children, businesses will be affected, so those businesses have a vested interest in making sure that the children are looked after, no matter what.
Water Shortages A continuous supply of drinkable water is essential to our community. Water flow throughout North Carolina's water system is regulated by computers. And computers regulate treatment of water. If that system is disrupted, we need to ensure there will be sufficient potable water for the residents of Durham County communities.
Sanitation Breakdown The sanitation system is dependent on a functioning water system, and on a functioning treatment plant. Computers are used throughout the process. Adequate supplies of chemicals and other materials are essential for proper functioning. Will our sanitation system hold up no matter what happens with Y2K? What would happen if toilets in our homes and offices stopped working?
Food Shortages Due to the computer controlled "just in time" distribution system used throughout the country, most supermarkets have at most a 24-hour supply of food. Markets are dependent on a functioning transportation system, including railroads and trucking. What if it breaks down? Can we produce enough food in this, the most agricultural county in the Bay Area, to feed ourselves? Do we have the will to set up neighborhood gardens by spring of 1999 in order to be prepared for possible problems? Can local farmers be encouraged to expand food production?
Health/Medical Problems Hospitals and their sophisticated medical equipment are dependent on computers and microprocessors. Hospitals are also dependent on federal money and on payments from health insurance companies and HMOs. And they need electricity and other utilities. Can we still provide medical treatment to the residents of our community if the hospitals have major disruptions?
Emergency Services Police, fire and ambulance services are dependent on highly sophisticated communications systems. 911 requires a functioning telephone system and functioning computers for determining the location of the emergency and for dispatching assistance. What happens if communications break down? Can police cars, fire trucks and ambulances be stationed at expanded locations throughout the community? Can alternative methods of communicating and reporting emergencies be set up?
Bank Closures Some believe that the national and global financial system is at risk. Many countries have done little to prepare for Y2K. If their banks and stock markets melt down, it would have a major affect on the United States. And many believe our own financial institutions will not be as well prepared as they currently claim.
What if there's no power, or the telephone system doesn't work and electronic transactions can't take place? What if there are bank runs? (Banks currently hold about $1.18 in reserve for every $100 deposited). Can our community function on its own as its own mini- economy?"
-- Roland (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 20, 1999.
From the disclaimer page:
The Durham County Y2K Information Kit is provided as a service to Durham County Citizens. Information on the site is provided as informal, general information to assist citizens in their knowledge base of and preparedness for Year 2000 Bug Issues and Problems. The Durham County Y2K Information Kit contains links and references to other information resources, but such references should not be considered as an endorsement of or recommendation by Durham County Government, or by any other person or entity identified on or by this Web Site. Durham County makes no warranties, guarantees, or representations as to the accuracy of information contained in this Web Site, and assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content. Under no circumstances will Durham County be held liable to any third party who may choose to rely on information contained in this Web Site. The dissemination of information on this Web Site Durham County does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by a party against Durham County, its agencies, its instrumentalities, its officers, its employees, or any other person.
Also, I cannot find references to chemical toilet, gold&silver, or MREs on the pages in question. How about a direct link Roland?
-- (@ .), December 20, 1999.
I can't find it either. Wonder if they "rethought" their webpage upon the running of this article...
-- Roland (email@example.com), December 20, 1999.
This is rather more frank than most governmental statements.
As a local Chapel Hillian I am aware that many areas of Durham are no-go even now. I hope they get through without much difficulty. But I am grateful I live out here in the boondocks than anywhere near downtown Durham.
They will be an excellent market for our veggies and fruits.
-- Forrest Covington (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 20, 1999.
From WRAL-TV in Raleigh:
Monday December 20, 1999 08:14 AM
Some Say Durham County Web Site's Y2K Advice Goes Too Far
DURHAM (AP) -- Some think Durham County's Web page might have overdone its tips for surviving possible Y2K glitches: storing silver and gold coins, buying a portable toilet, installing a cistern to collect rainwater and other advice.
``I think this is interesting reading,'' said Ilse Fogl, director of the N.C. Year 2000 Project Office, ``but I think they should have realized that some people could be scared and that some people could overreact. I truly would not want somebody to read this and think it was needed because of the year 2000, because I don't believe that it will be.''
County leaders defend the information found at the county Web site under ``Citizen Y2K Information Kit.''
``I think it's very lighthearted in the way it's presented and just some things that people want to consider,'' said County Manager David Thompson. ``I don't think it's presenting a major disaster.''
The online suggestions have been toned down from an earlier version that included suggestions that typhoid and cholera vaccination records be kept handy in case public sanitation breaks down, stockpiling chocolate and cigarettes for barter and obtaining a solar oven.
``The tone of this information was not a survivalist tone, even without the change,'' said Deborah Craig-Ray, the county's director of public information for the county.
The county tried to clarify its intent in a statement posted on the site this week.
``It is suggested,'' the Web site states, ``that you spend a little more money and time, and get or do some things that will make you less dependent on electric utilities, supermarkets, commercial entertainment, health 'delivery systems', global financial networks and the rest, so that Y2K or no Y2K, you may have a little more peace and quiet in your life.''
Dale Vecchio, who has been tracking year 2000 issues for the past five years for the Gartner Group, a leading computer consulting company, said Durham County's Web site is ``probably as extreme as I've seen.''
``There is a delicate balance between ensuring your citizenry are informed,'' he said, ``and inducing behavior that makes the matter worse. One of the concerns that we have is that people's actions in anticipation of failure will create a bigger problem than the failures themselves.''
-- Old Git (email@example.com), December 20, 1999.
I wonder why that is presented as being a bad thing? What's wrong with surviving?
-- Servant (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 20, 1999.
Looks like they PC'd it. Look what I found on their "Citizen's Checklist":
"Be prepared to relocate to a shelter for warmth and protection during a prolonged power outage or if for any other reason local officials request or require that you leave your home."
This "require that you leave your home" crap is starting to get real old in a hurry.
-- Ron Schwarz (email@example.com), December 20, 1999.