Y2K Drill in Georgia

Flooding, plane crashes and power outages part of Y2K readiness in Georgia

Phone calls came flooding into the Georgia disaster office. There was a plane crash in South Georgia, a gasoline tanker collided with a tour bus on the East Side, there was a winter storm in the north and power was knocked out throughout the state. All these calls coming into the office and all at once, this sent Georgia emergency officials scrambling to handle the problems. Luckily, this was only a drill. This was a test of the state’s readiness to handle any and all disasters should they occur this New Year's Eve in relation to the Y2K computer bug.

Phone lines in the basement of the operations center of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency were designed to test the limits of the emergency personal.

As the morning wore on more calls came in. There was a prison riot and a drunken riot. The floodgates of a northern dam were opened because of a computer malfunction and rivers were flooding with no sandbags nearby. Another call, at least 60,000 chickens were dying and no one knows why. Yes, these were all fictitious problems and all designed to make sure the state could handle any and all problems that may arise.

The director of the exercise, Tracy Sargent, admits this drill was a bit of overkill, and told the Atlanta Constitution it was a worst-case example of bad luck run amok. Sargent said the drill was designed to stretch the capabilities of every state agency and private group that would respond in the event of widespread problems. The drill was set up to prepare for Y2K, but the lessons learned could apply to a wide array of disasters that could happen at any time.

Georgia officials admit they have no idea if any or all of these problems will happen when the date on computers changes over from 1999 to 2000. Officials know they have to be prepared for anything and this was their way of testing the system.

They made the drill as realistic as possible. Trucks that set out to haul water to fires were without gas and drivers so emergency personal had to take care of those concerns before ever reaching the fictitious fire. Newscasts were staged to provide gloomy updates of widespread panic. The newscasts were played at the staging area so workers would be tempted to be distracted from the chore at hand. On top of that, the calls just kept coming in; the drill lasted for 12 straight hours.

What did they discover during this drill? They found out that the power outages of 30 counties