Y2K Problems Can Be Avoided, FEMA Official Says

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Release date: 
February 17, 1999
Release Number: 

» John Koskinen's Remarks from Atlanta Y2K Conference
» For complete FEMA coverage of Year 2000 Issues

ATLANTA, Ga. -- The transition to the Year 2000 is not expected to bring major national problems with the nation's infrastructure and the country can avoid localized disruptions if work begins now to make systems compliant, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Director Mike Walker said today.

"Nothing about Y2K is preordained except for the date," Walker said, speaking at the first of 10 Y2K workshops FEMA is holding across the country with state emergency managers and Y2K coordinators to prepare for the Year 2000 transition.

"We know what the problem is and we know how to fix it," he said. "As leaders in our respective sectors, we should as a matter of first priority resolve to encourage those to fix that which has not yet been fixed. That is the surest way to prepare for Y2K."

Walker told the more than 200 participants at the workshop in Atlanta that a lot of progress has been made in dealing with potential Y2K problems. "But a great deal remains to be done, particularly in the small business sector and in many small towns and counties," he said. "We in the emergency services sector should prudently plan for numerous small disruptions, which could occur simultaneously across the country." Based on current information, he said, the potential disruptions are likely to be localized and limited in scope and duration.

Walker said that people should prepare for potential Y2K disruptions like they would prepare for disruptions caused by a winter storm. People do not need to stockpile supplies or fear the kinds of national disruptions some extremists are predicting, he said. In fact, he warned that the kinds of actions many are recommending, such as hoarding or taking money out of banks, could actually precipitate the very disaster the 'naysayers' are forecasting.

"I have a great deal of faith in the American people," Walker said. "I know they will see through the naysayers and fearmongers who are trying to scare us or make a buck. When you look at everything

Americans have dealt with throughout our history, Y2K is nothing. Yes, it poses a challenge. But it pales beside the great challenges Americans have previously faced and the great challenges Americans have conquered.

"It is important that we tell the American people everything we know," Walker continued. "For an educated public is a strong public. And an educated public will always make the right decisions."

Other speakers at the opening plenary session at the Atlanta workshop included John Copenhaver, FEMA director for Region IV and members of the National Y2K Team, representing the U.S. Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services and Transportation, the Federal Reserve Board, National Communications System, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the American Red Cross.

The schedule for the initial series of FEMA Y2K Workshops is as follows:

  • Atlanta
Feb. 17-18
  • New York City
Feb. 23-24
  • Boston
Feb. 24-25
  • Philadelphia
Feb. 25-26
  • Dallas
March 9-10
  • Chicago
March 10-11
  • Kansas City
March 11-12
  • Seattle
March 23-24
  • San Francisco
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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