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Community meeting
on Y2K problem

by Karen Lyncon
For the Pathfinder
October 29, 1998

What would you do if the electricity went out for three weeks during the middle of winter? What would you do if food supplies to Seeley Lake were interrupted? Would there be enough gasoline for the QRU to take the ambulance to Missoula if you or someone in your family needed medical attention during such an emergency? What would you do if you knew that neighbors and friends were cold and hungry?

These are just some of the questions we might be forced to answer beginning on January 1, 2000, when the year 2000 computer problem, Y2K, the millennium bug, may be activated. An emergency started not because of a blizzard or a blow down, but by the simple turning of a second hand on a date-sensitive clock or micro chip in some part of the electric grid. And this will effect everyone, whether they own a computer or not.

No one seems to know what will happen in our interconnected computerized society when our two-digit date coded computers hit 00 and read it as 1900 instead of 2000. While specific government agencies such as the Social Security Administration have been working on their systems, there are no coordinated county, state, or federal programs dealing with this issue. And December 31, 1999 is a non-negotiable deadline.

We, as individuals, need to begin to plan for an emergency that could include massive power outages during the coldest part of our winter. We need to plan for an emergency that could interrupt supplies of food and gasoline to our isolated valley. We, as a community, need to plan to assist our friends and neighbors to stay warm and fed.

All community residents who are interested in learning more about Y2K and the potential problems that might arise next winter are invited to attend a community meeting on November 2 at the Community Hall from 7:00 to 8:30pm to begin this planning process.

Several people in the community are already interested in this potential problem - small groups are meeting to discuss food storage, buying generators, and identifying emergency resources. Other groups are focusing on the need of our friends and neighbors for food and are discussing starting a Food Bank this winter to provide immediate help, as well as developing a resource for any Y2K food supply problems that may arise next year.

Ideally we will prepare ourselves as individuals, as families, and as a community for this event, and hope that no outages or shortages occur. Then we'll have a lot of extra food at Winterfest 2000!

For more information about the community meeting, the Y2K issue, or to schedule a presentation to your group, class, or church, you may call Karen Lyncoln at 677-2407.

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