SEATTLE, Wash. -- While few emergency managers expected any significant infrastructure failures from the "Y2K rollover," most kept a wary eye out for localized outages. Few materialized, prompting armchair quarterbacks to question if Y2K ever posed a serious risk in the first place. According to FEMA regional director David L. de Courcy, that's only to be expected - and isn't such a bad thing.
"During the early phases of Y2K preparations there was no shortage of doomsayers criticizing government and industry failure to take Y2K threats seriously. Now that we have avoided serious system failures, it is legitimate to ask if all our preparations weren't 'overkill,'" said de Courcy. "And after action reports and audits are as inevitable as they are necessary. My personal read is that actions taken were prudent and balanced and in no small way guaranteed our smooth transition."
Cities and counties, homes, hotels and hospitals, schools, businesses and charitable organizations enter the year 2000 with emergency plans in place. Many, if not most stockpiled the prerequisite 72 hours of emergency supplies recommended by emergency managers, and the American Red Cross. De Courcy would not only like to see the momentum sustained, but recommends municipalities, businesses and citizens alike to "up the ante" and collectively build more disaster-resistant communities.
"As a nation, we enter this new millennium with a new commitment to mitigation, and the concepts of the Administration's Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities initiative," said de Courcy. "Sustaining this level of preparedness will serve us well, whatever Mother Nature dishes out in the coming years."
And Mother Nature can dish out plenty. As a region, we are still in the throws of winter, in the middle of our rainy season, with flood hazards and winter storms still posing serious threats. In addition to recommending frequent visits to his agency's website at: http://www.fema.gov de Courcy cited the first weeks of the new year as the ideal time to recommit to readiness. Recommendations include:
- Inventory unused "Y2K" water reserves and foodstuffs for your 72-hour kit - and consider donating excess provisions, or those with limited shelf-life to food banks or emergency shelters. Refresh supplies of bottled water every six months.
- Bolster current blood bank and blood center supplies of whole blood by donating blood.
- Mark your calendar for quarterly updates and rehearsals of family/business emergency plans.
- Maintain "mini" emergency supply kits in your car and at your workplace.
- Check fire smoke detectors TODAY. Schedule period tests on your calendars.