By Ron VandenBoom
The second meeting of an ad hoc Y2K committee composed of local government agencies and essential services organizations was held Monday at the Northern Montana Care Center.
The purpose of the committee is to assist in the coordinating of local emergency contingency plans for Y2K in Havre and the surrounding area.
Representatives from the Havre Police Department, Havre Fire Department, Northern Montana Hospital, The Havre Daily News, KOJM/KPQX, Hill County Electric, Havre water and sewer plants, and the American Red Cross attended the meeting.
Clay Vincent, director of Disaster and Emergency Services in Havre, told the committee concerns over Y2K as a computer problem affecting essential services is just a part of what he sees as the committees purpose.
We need to be prepared for emergency situations whether they are related to the Y2K or not, he said, adding that emergencies and disasters can occur any time regardless of computers.
Havre Police Chief Mike Shortell told the committee his greatest concern about Y2K was not computers, but the possibility that someone might be disappointed when nothing catastrophic happens and decides to make something happen.
The possible loss of electric power for an extended period of time was the greatest concern of the committee as they discussed the ramifications of an extended power outage during the winter months.
For many, the loss of electricity would mean the loss of heat in their homes. Where large numbers of people could go where heat would be available was a major concern.
Terry Schend, representing the American Red Cross, said he is working on contingency housing plans that could accommodate large numbers of people and hopes to have something to present to the committee the next time it meets.
Several Havre buildings could provide limited temporary housing. The representative from Northern Montana Health Care told the committee the Hospital has space on the fourth floor that could accommodate some people and some could also be housed at the Care Center.
Limited housing could also be available at Eagles Manor and in the basement of the Havre Fire Department.
No arrangements have been made to utilize Havre schools as possible shelters and their suitability, due to a lack of generators, has yet to be determined.
KOJM/KPQX will be able to broadcast emergency information during emergency situations due to back-up generators and already existing emergency broadcast procedures, the committee was told.
The availability of water and sewer was also an issue discussed by the committee.
A supply of at least 24 hours of potable water would be available in storage tanks and sewer services would work at least temporarily.
The 13 lift stations on Havres sewer lines would need portable generators in order to operate, the committee was told.
Preliminary plans coordinating possible solutions to these concerns will be presented to the committee in late November.
A table-top exercise is also being planned that will give the various agencies a chance to determine how well organized they are, or need to be, prior to Dec. 31.