Y2K stockpiles outlast year

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nation: Y2K stockpiles outlast year

By CHRIS ROBERTS, Associated Press EL PASO, Texas (January 1, 2001 5:15 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - It's taken him 12 months, but Ron Williams has almost used up his supply of food, medicine and other goods stocked in preparation for the Y2K computer chaos that never came.

Still, the military surplus store owner who advised his customers to stock up on staples has no regrets.

"We bought toilet paper by the case," Williams said. "You don't stop eating. You don't stop going to the bathroom."

Thousands of people feared that the Y2K computer bug - glitches caused by computers reading "00" as 1900 instead of 2000 - would wreak havoc, leaving cities powerless and in chaos.

So they hoarded the basics, such as water, baby formula and batteries, or prepared for the worst, buying electric generators, heaters and sleeping bags.

Now, some people are still stuck with the leftovers.

April and Tommy Brown, of Nevada, Texas, 30 miles northeast of Dallas, bought a dozen gallons of drinking water, fuel for camping stoves and several cases of canned foods.

The water is gone but they're still working their way through the pork and beans, green beans and corn, April Brown said.

"We bought everything in a can. We'll use it eventually," she said.

Williams said his store, Eagle Military, in El Paso, sold more generators, packaged military meals, flashlights, solar radios and other survival gear in 1999 than in any of the previous 20 years he has been in business.

Cheaper Than Dirt Inc., a Fort Worth-based mail-order camping and outdoor gear supplier, sold $10 million worth of MREs, the ready-to-eat meals created for soldiers, Chief Executive Officer Michael Tenny said.

Williams and Tenny said only a few customers tried to return purchases when the calendar flipped over and none of the predicted anarchy took place.

Tenny acknowledged that he has sold only about $200,000 worth of MREs this year, compared with an average of about $350,000 annually. "That's probably because we filled a lot of the holes the year before," he said.

Jerry Gentry, a semiretired businessman who lives near Gladewater in East Texas, started Club Y2K. The Internet business still sells survival kits with raw wheat, corn, soybeans, salt and a water filter, designed to support one person for a year. The cost: $350.

He admits he bought too much grain, which now sits in a Missouri warehouse. But he said the grain's quality and packaging give it at least a 10-year shelf life, meaning he may recover some of his investment.

"We're selling it to organic stores and we're eating our way through some of it," he said.

Known to some friends as "Mr. Y2K," Gentry said he couldn't get his diesel generator started during a recent ice storm that knocked out his electricity. He later discovered that it worked, but the cold weather required a slight change in the starting procedure.

"I told that to a few locals around here and they've all gotten a big laugh," he said.

He said the lesson reminds him that there's no shame in being prepared for disasters, natural or manmade.

"Disasters are things that come on us all at inopportune times, when we least expect it," he said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), January 01, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ