State officials will rest a little easier as the New Year rings in comparedto all the action one year ago. State Emergency Management Division DirectorEllen Gordon took some time this week to reflect on the events of last year.At this time last year, everyone was preparing for a possible Y-2-Kdisaster. Predictions of Y-2-K nightmares proved to be unfounded as stateofficials were left with very little to do at their Camp Dodge command post.Some people believe 2001 is the actual start of Y-2-K, but Gordon says shehasn’t heard of any concerns. Gordon says all the Y-2-K work and planninghasn’t gone to waste. She says the year 2000 ended up pretty much as itstarted — quiet, with no major disasters. The quiet start of the New Yearleft many people with stores of extra food, gasoline and electric generatorsthat ended up collecting dust.
Now that New Year’s Eve is safely behind us, Iowans who hoarded piles of food in their basements may consider donating it to the needy. Karen Ford, executive director of the Food Bank of Iowa, says it’d be a big help if people forked over that extra food, but she’s not expecting too much.Since Iowans like to be prepared for a winter storm that may strand them in their homes, Ford doesn’t expect people to donate all of their stockpiled food right away.Ford says the Food Bank could use the boost — several items in particular.The Food Bank of Iowa serves 325 non-profit pantries and shelters in 42 Iowa counties. The facility is working with the national effort called “Y Go 2 Waste” through America’s Second Harvest. For information, call 800-771-2303 or surf to: www.secondharvest.org
The federal government spent eight and a half BILLION dollars preparing its computers for the Y-2-K glitch — which had very little impact anywhere. While it’s uncertain what would’ve happened had the money not been spent, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley feels it was a wise investment.Grassley says the billions spent on Y-2-K were in line with the old adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.Grassley says many of the computers had to be upgraded anyway to move into the 21st century.
A financial industry official says Iowans who took out big wads of cash as a Y-2-K precaution last week should put that money back in their accounts soon. Ben Hildebrandt, a vice president with the Iowa Bankers Association, says it’s a risk holding on to large sums of money.In addition to the risks of the money being stolen, destroyed or otherwise lost, Hildebrandt says there’s another reason to re-deposit the dough in a savings account.Many other people may have the same idea to get to the bank today and deposit their emergency funds. Thieves & robbers may also be lingering. Hildebrandt says people carrying large sums of money should be cautious.He says Iowans are actually losing money the longer they keep their large chunks of change out of the banks since they’re not earning interest.
Iowa’s top Y-2-K watchers are on the job. The state’s Emergency Operations Center is now open, being staffed by more than 50 people from agencies including the National Weather Service, Public Health, Public Safety, FEMA and the Civil Air Patrol. David Miller is chief of staff of the State Emergency Management Division. He says they’re monitoring the arrival of the year two-thousand around the world.Miller says there are some “minor glitches” that are NOT related to the Y-2-K computer problem cropping up around the world.The F-B-I is investigated a suspicious car that was left at a Des Moines truck rental agency yesterday. The car was filled with more than 50 containers of gasoline, propane & kerosene. It’s now believed the car was just someone’s storage spot for Y-2-K supplies. Through their 3:30 pm briefing state officials say the only problem continued to be phone lines jammed by people calling to wish friends and relatives a Happy New Year.
The Iowa Attorney General’s office is warning businesses in the state about a last-minute Y-2-K scam. Bob Brammer, a spokesman for the Attorney General, says some businesses have received a Y-2-K readiness survey that must be faxed back to a 900 number at a cost to the sender.He believes the 900 number may be linked to a company that is out of the United States.Brammer says they’ve had surprisingly few reports of people being taken by those looking to cash in on Y-2-K fears.Brammer says if you believe you may’ve been taken in a Y-2-K scam, you should call the Attorney General’s office.
There’s been so much hype and warning, many computer experts believe there won’t be much effect at all by the Y-2-K bug. Still, the chief of the Central Iowa Computer Users Group fears there WILL still be trouble, but not due to the date change on January first. He says the bigger problem comes on January 3rd when people turn on their computer and find the hard drive has died from old age.Dan Buda says most computers aren’t designed to be left running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for years on end. He says people who shut their systems down this weekend may find a real surprise when they try to boot them back up on Monday.Buda strongly recommends people do complete back-ups of any of their important data. He says perhaps eight percent of computers that’re running all the time may crash once shut down and the data will be lost. Buda says there’s no way to jump-start a hard drive that’s died.A technology consulting firm estimates only ten percent of all Y-2-K failures will happen in the first two weeks of January. Other glitches may linger for months and even into 2001 and beyond before they cause trouble.
Iowans who want to commemorate the new year with a special souvenir don’t have to look far — only as far as their mailbox. Most post offices across Iowa are offering a millennium postmark for both December 31st, 1999 and January 1st of 2000. U-S Postal Service Iowa spokesman Rich Watkins says Iowans may send in to the post office whatever they want postmarked in a stamped, self-addressed envelope, or they can bring the items to the post office in person. He says the postmarks do NOT have to be obtained right away. They’ll be available through about 100 post offices statewide through February 29th. Watkins says there’s also a 33-cent millennium stamp that’s just gone on sale Monday.
The Mayor of Seattle has cancelled his city’s planned New Year’s Eve celebration at the famous Space Needle, but the big millennium party in Iowa’s Capital City will go on. Fifteen mayors in the Des Moines Metro-area are hosting a huge New Year’s Eve party. Des Moines Mayor Preston Daniels says it’s not wise to cancel events due to vague terrorist threats. Other mayors around the state, like Lynn Clancey in Cedar Rapids, say they’ll be in their offices on New Year’s Eve to see if city operations are millennium bug-free.
One of Iowa’s largest electricity providers is warning people about the use of gas-powered generators on New Year’s Eve. Alliant Energy spokesman David Giroux (jer-OH) says generator sales have gone through the roof recently but people don’t always follow the instructions. When the generators have been used elsewhere during power outages, Giroux says there were many reports of carbon monoxide poisonings, burns, fires and electrocutions. He is concerned people will start using their generators on New Year’s Eve when they really don’t have to.