By HDN Editorial Board
As the country looks forward to a once in a millennium celebration on Dec. 31, the more interesting story is the hyperbole over what some see as a sort of doomsday, ultra catastrophic, end of life as we know it, finale to modern man.
Well, before we lock the door on the bomb shelter, it's time to take a long hard look at the realities of Y2K.
Billions of dollars have been spent by utility companies, phone companies, the banking industry and the U.S. Government to insure there will be no super computer crash at midnight on Dec. 31.
Equipment that might be Y2K sensitive has been tested, retested, and hyper-tested in order to assure that the infamous Y2K computer bug will not nest in those computers we depend on for basic necessities.
Sorry to disappoint all the doomsday buffs, but Y2K is probably going to be more of a whimper than a bang.
In recent times the focus of attention has turned away from computer bugs and toward the possibility that radical groups or disgruntled individuals might take advantage of already existing apprehensions to commit acts of terrorism against public utilities. The possibility of pranksters wanting to play a millennium joke has also raised concerns in law enforcement circles and with public officials.
While increased vigilance and more law enforcement personnel can help reduce this sort of a threat, there is nothing that can be done to completely eliminate it.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of the Y2K hysteria has been an awareness on the part of city and county officials that a review of emergency plans was in order. What would happen if a natural disaster struck Hill County? Was the community prepared for an emergency situation in the middle of winter? What would happen if residents were without power for more than a few hours, a few days, or a week?
Representatives from law enforcement agencies, the Havre Fire Department, Montana Power Co., Northern Montana Hospital, KOJM/KPQX, the Havre Daily News, Havre Department of Public Works, the Red Cross, and other agencies, met to answer the question.
What has emerged is a preliminary plan of action and better understanding of what needs to be done and who needs to be contacted to see it is done. Local agencies have also improved their knowledge and ability to respond to emergency situations and our community is better prepared, better coordinated, and more aware, than before Y2K.
Residents still need to do their part to insure our community is ready for any eventuality be it weather related, a natural disaster or man-made. Be sure to keep a battery operated radio and some extra batteries on hand and keep some extra candles and a flashlight in a known location. A few jugs of water and some food that does not require cooking is also a good idea.
And don't forget to check up on and keep in touch with your neighbors.
Most importantly, use common sense when celebrating on New Years Eve and have a safe and happy holiday season.