By JAY HOWSER
Jeff Ramey of Boise, Idaho, gave his son Jared an unusual gift for Christmas — an electric wheat grinder and a 50-lb. bag of wheat. Mr. Ramey said the gift was at least partially inspired by the closing threat of the Y2K bug. Ramey is not a millennial fanatic, but he loves his family and wants to be prepared for any problems, especially since he expects all six of his children to be in Boise with him New Year’s Eve.
Two of Ramey’s sons attend college in Provo; Jared is at BYU and another goes to UVSC. Like many college students, they will most likely be travelling home for the holidays and will depend on their parents’ preparation for potential Y2K fallout.
Ramey provides a pretty good example of preparation. He has a furnace, a wood stove and two fireplaces as well as firewood storage. He has a small generator and enough food and water storage to last the family several months. He plans to have his car’s gas tanks full before Jan. 1. He has also checked his computer and appliances for problems.
Despite all this, Ramey said the bug is not a big concern to him.
“The truth is I’m not worrying a whole lot about it,” he said. “I think there probably will be some places that it will affect and there may be people in bad situations for up to four to six weeks. The key is if people panic, it will make it worse. If people keep level heads, it’ll be a lot easier to deal with.”
Ramey said he has just been following the advice leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been giving for many years about preparing in advance for disaster. Kerry Baum, emergency preparedness coordinator for BYU, said acting on this advice should be sufficient.
“I think a lot of Latter-day Saints aren’t as prepared as they should be, so this is an opportunity to sharpen the saw a little bit. But they shouldn’t do it out of fear; they should do it out of obedience.”
— Dana Gunnell of Burley, Idaho
“As an emergency planner, I think if you just follow the council the church has always given and build a food supply and fuel supply where possible, then it will be OK,” Baum said.
Baum said his personal opinion is that the bug will pose only minor problems. He does not foresee any problems with the banks, saying that they are probably more prepared than anyone else because their Y2K problem started 30 years ago with home mortgages.
Some students’ parents, however, believe the bug will cause more serious problems, especially on an international level.
Mark Robinson of Orem, whose daughter Maren is a BYU student, said that while he thinks the United States will be prepared for the bug, he doubts all other countries will be. In this world of intertwined economies, that presents a significant problem, he said.
Jim Swindler of Draper, who has two children at BYU, said, “I think in the U.S. it will be noticeable, but it won’t be a disaster except for a few companies that don’t get their acts together. I think that in other countries it could be a huge mess.”
Both Robinson and Swindler have prepared for emergency by checking their computers and software for bug problems. Besides this, neither has had to do any other special preparations because both had already been keeping food storage.
“Other than checking around the house to make sure that everything’s functional, we aren’t going to do anything different,” Swindler said. “Because we already followed the LDS council on having a food supply, we haven’t had to do anything different for this.”
Bob Young of Salt Lake, who has one student at UVSC, has made no unusual preparations because he thinks the Y2K bug will not live up to its hype.
“I don’t think we’re doing anything really special. We’ve got pretty close to a year’s supply of food, but we don’t have any alternate power source or anything like that. I guess I’m thinking that if there’s a problem it won’t be that big,” Young said.
Many LDS parents do not know what to make of the issue, but all interviewed have a food storage supply that would last at least a few months.
Dana Gunnell of Burley, Idaho, who has two students in Provo, said she has an extensive food storage with enough beans, rice, dry-pack materials and other supplies to last the family for a year. She said listening to people talk about Y2K on the Michael Reagan radio talk show inspires her to get more. She plans on getting a generator, kerosine lamps and other supplies this summer.
“I do not think that it will be a problem, but we should always be prepared for it. You won’t need to worry about it if you’re prepared,” Gunnell said.
Gunnell said many LDS parents still have more to do to be ready.
“I think a lot of Latter-day Saints aren’t as prepared as they should be, so this is an opportunity to sharpen the saw a little bit. But they shouldn’t do it out of fear; they should do it out of obedience,” she said.
For more information on preparing food storage, visit www.foodstorage.net. For government information on the Y2K bug, visit www.y2k.gov or call the hot line at 1-888-USA-4Y2K. For the USDA’s food supply statement, visit the Web site at www.co-intelligence.org/y2k_USDA1.html.