Hardy Ice-Storm Survivors Expect Y2K To Be Breeze

NEWBURY, N.H. — The prospect of no electricity, heat or running
water on Jan. 1 doesn’t scare the citizens of Newbury, a small
community in central New Hampshire.

Two years ago this community of 2,000 people lived through an
ice storm that knocked out power to the majority of residents for
more than a week.

Jim Powell, chairman of the board of selectman for the town,
said the experience has left the community feeling it can cope with
any emergency, even Y2K. ‘That was quite an experience,’ he said.
‘Anything that happens now won’t be anywhere close to that kind of
emergency.’

Still, the town is taking no chances. Bottled water is stored in
the town hall.

Emergency generators are waiting to be fired up in case power
goes out. Two-way radios connect town officials to police and state
officials. A list of elderly residents and people with health
problems has been drawn up so emergency personnel can check up on
them, door to door, if problems should occur. The town hall can
double as an emergency operations center housing well over 100
people.

If the town should need additional help, it will be in constant
radio contact with the Office of Emergency Management in Concord,
the state capital. State and private sector representatives will
staff a Y2K Command Center and monitor power outages and phone
problems from New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day with
representatives from the state police, the public utilities
commission, Bell Atlantic, the National Guard, and the department
of transportation.

‘When we had that major ice storm, it was a similar scenario,’
said Doug Patch, co-chairman of the Governor’s Y2K Preparedness
Task Force.

Despite the crowd of officials spending New Year’s Eve at the
Y2K command center, Patch said, he is not anticipating major
problems. ‘We’re really not expecting much, to be honest with you,’
he said. ‘Maybe you can view it as a bit of overkill (with all the
officials), but we felt better doing it this way.’

In Newbury, town officials said that if the ice storm was any
indication of how well their residents handle these kinds of
emergencies, then they are not worried. ‘A lot of people hunkered
down and sat by their wood stoves. A lot have generators,’ said
Dennis Pavlicek, town administrator. The fire station supplied
food, and the town hall housed several families. ‘A lot of people
were just able to stay at home.’

Contact: Jim Powell, chairman of the Board of Selectmen,
Newbury, N.H., 603-938-2228. Dennis Pavlicek, town administrator,
Newbury, N.H., 603-763-4940. Doug Patch, co-chairman of the
Governor’s Y2K Preparedness Task Force, Concord, N.H.
603-271-2442.

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