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It’s hard to believe we are approaching the 14th anniversary of Y2K, that some warned would bring about the end of the world as we knew it.
From the start of computer programer’s warnings that the New Millennium, which would read 00, would glitch all computer software and hardware programs, nations quietly began to prepare by employing programers who were tasked with sorting out the mess. The job was made more difficult because fifty years of computer programing had gone by, and many of the original programers had passed on, leaving these new generation programers to figure out a solution on their own under extremely stressful conditions.
For the first time since the Great Depression, the potential of a system-wide meltdown forced Americans to wake up long enough to understand exactly what had been happening over the past 60 years. The reality didn’t paint a pretty picture. By the late 1990’s, while many were busy feasting on credit cards and buying McMansions they couldn’t afford, the truth of nation’s critically flawed system highlighted an unhealthy dependance on technology that had already wound its way around every facet of people’s lives across the globe.
During Y2K, people in the U.S. pretty much fell into one of three groups: the naysayers, the interested, and those who would become the first wave of post-Cold War Preppers.
Group #1 Thought, “It’ll Never Happen…Now Shut Up and Leave Me Alone!”
There are no demographics on what percentage of people refused to listen to the problems surrounding Y2K, but it probably wasn’t much different than what Preppers experience today when the subject of CME’s (coronal mass ejections) or the approaching economic collapse comes up. This first group just buried their heads in the sand.
It was assumed by most embroiled in the Y2K debate that when SHTF this first group would likely get together with like-minded folks to gripe about how long it was taking for help to arrive. The thought of gathering water probably wouldn’t have dawned on them until thirst overtook them, and it’s a sure bet their pantries wouldn’t have contained over three days worth of food. When it became apparent that meals on wheels was not going to knock on millions of doors each and every day to feed them, their lack of planning would become self-evident.
Group #2 Thought, “It Might Happen, But What Can I Do About It?”
This is the group that acknowledged Y2K might be a problem, but chose to walk away from the debate; most likely because they lacked the backbone to change their lifestyle in order to become prepared. And just as today, now 14 years later, these are the same people who may discuss the possibility of a climatic crisis, or the evidence of the coming economic collapse. Today, these same people would most definitely gripe about Obama Care that devastated their health care plan and their budget. Just don’t expect them to actually do anything to improve their situation.
Unfortunately, if members of this camp are part of your family group, it will fall to your shoulders to prepare–and that’s provided they don’t try to help themselves to the food storage and toilet paper you’ve managed to squirrel away without asking. The best solution to a scenario like this is to store everything behind a door and then slap a heavy-duty padlock on it. This approach also requires the resolve to put your foot down, even when confronted with anger over your “hording”.
(David’s note: When guests ask me about locked rooms, I just tell them, “That’s where we keep Ruprecht.” People who know “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” laugh because they get a kick out of it. Others laugh too, but it’s more of an uncomfortable laugh 😉
Should an extended family member, a friend, or co-worker happen to fall within this group, you can count on them to show up on your doorstep at the first sign of trouble. After all, you’re their go-to person!
Group #3 thinks, “If the Government Is Worried Enough For Y2K Committees & Re-Programing Code, It’s Time To Prepare!”
This final group listened to the warnings, educated themselves on the problems that existed, and burned the midnight oil to educate themselves on every aspect of preparedness. The learning curve was brutal, but so were the potential consequences of being unprepared.
In my opinion, this is where many Preppers got their start, and now have over a decade of hands-on experience. In a lot of cases, newbie preppers are turning to the Y2K preppers who figured things out before them for advice and encouragement.
Most of these Preppers tend to keep a low profile, but when asked, they are likely to say that once they learned the ins and outs of preparedness, and the began storing essentials, they never looked back.
(David’s note: I’m continually amazed with the number of people I talk with who are in their 50s and older who prepared for Y2K, felt a little foolish when nothing happened, and who have started brushing everything off in recent years. They’re thankful now for the running start they have today. This continually validates my philosophy of using events to spur action and bursts of forward progress, but to have a preparedness plan based on solid fundamentals and not on specific events.)
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Facing the possibility of life without electricity, communications, banks, grocers, water, sewer, heat, fuel, and emergency services, most of the people who had determined to prepare for Y2K discovered they didn’t have any idea where to begin. Generations separated us from our forefather’s wisdom of how to survive without modern conveniences.
The very thing that threatened our survival, our reliance on computers, was where people turned for information, and a whole new cottage industry was born; preparedness and survival goods and informational sites.
On ancient Y2K preparedness and survival forums, we learned about Heirloom garden seed, how to garden, and how to home can or dehydrate the garden’s overflow. Root Cellars came back into vogue, and information on do-it-yourself greenhouses and chicken coops was sought by many. Information on how to preserve cheese and eggs, long-term, and the use of sourdough starter were other hot topics. So were our forefathers’ alternative methods for heating, cooking, and lighting. This is where many learned about bartering and there was page after page of suggestions we could turn to. The Internet was where we got information from those in the medical field who suggested training courses to get up to speed, and communications experts who tutored the newbies on 2-way and Ham radio.
Safety was a huge concern for everyone, and it was on survival and preparedness sites and forums where we sought the advice of those with military and police experience and where we discussed hunting and trapping with avid hunters and trappers.
The truth, if the warnings were correct, was that civilization as we knew it was about to be turned upside down and those living in the poorest nations were the most likely to survive because their lives didn’t revolve around luxuries like computers, electricity, automobiles and grocery stores. Most living in third-world countries were intimately familiar with bartering for necessities and gardening for sustenance. Suddenly, those of us living in luxury in developed nations were the ones at a disadvantage.
The thing is…all of the problems that existed back 14 years ago still exist today, even though over a decade to repair the problem has come and passed. If anything, the risks and potential fallout has only grown worse. But the one important difference between then and now is that a Pandora’s Box of sorts has been opened, and because of it, over 3 million people have chosen to become self-sufficient. And just as important, many Americans are now dedicating their time to act as watchdogs and monitor what our officials are up to, so the omissions of mainstream media aren’t quite as effective as they once were!
If you still doubt the value of the Y2K shake-up with regards to preparedness, have a look at the main topics of the time that most were clueless about…
Until Y2K, few people knew or were concerned that the U.S. Dollar was backed only by blind trust in the system. All the gold in Fort Knox (if it was still stored there) would not be saving us.
The average person didn’t have a clue that the Federal Reserve was not “Federal”. It wasn’t until Y2K when the soft underbelly of our monetary system was exposed to the masses.
Suddenly, we were made aware that our banking system was completely dependent upon computers to pull up customer data; no record of deposits equals no money in our pockets.
People learned that only a small fraction of depositors money is actually kept on hand at banks while the lions share was funneled into loans… the public had been lied to when we were told we had access to our money whenever we needed it. Today, the problem has only grown worse. Recently, Chase sent out notifications to their customers that stated as of November 17, 2013, withdrawals would be limited to $50,000 each month, and that outgoing International Money Transfers would no longer be allowed, making it crystal clear who was in control of the money deposited in their bank.
For the first time, we learned not to depend on ATM’s should the grid go down. People started socking away cash at home and some began investing in Gold and silver.
Access to safety deposit boxes, we discovered, were likewise at risk should a bank holiday be called or the grid crashed. Many during Y2K found alternative safe locations to store their valuables.
Before Y2K, most people took the electricity that ran to their homes for granted…until they came to understand its delivery was dependent upon computer programing. The situation has only grown worse since 1999.
One of the biggest threats to long-term survival on a global scale was brought to light during Y2K, and that was the threat the 425 nuclear power plants posed to mankind should the grid go down across the continents.
During Y2K, people were warned not to expect their toilets to flush, or their garbage to be picked up. As far as sanitation went, we were on our own and people got busy with work-arounds.
Back in the late 1990’s, the problem of fuel availability and transportation was foremost on many people’s mind, just as it is today.
The approach of Y2k was the first time most people became aware that grocery stores no longer stored back stock, and suddenly, we learned of how fragile our food chain really was. Gardening and food storage became one of the most talked-about subjects.
Water, something we can’t live without, could no longer be taken for granted. The power it took to feed it to our homes looked to be less than a sure thing, and many scrambled to find a reliable source, sought information on how to purify it, and found creative ways on storing it.
Everyday tasks like heating the home, cooking, and lighting required alternative methods that forced most people to turn to the few who had experience with living without electricity. Suddenly, many forums were flooded with questions about generators and fuel storage.
Safety was a subject of great debate at the time because many couldn’t wrap their minds around a time when looting and worse became a reality that needed to be planned ahead for. Eventually, most Preppers educated themselves on tactical weaponry.
Communication was yet another modern convenience we were told would disappear on the year 2000 and people’s interest in 2-way and Ham radio skyrocketed.
Just as today, Preppers struggled with loved ones who disagreed over the need to prepare, and many turned to forums to seek advice from others; many who were struggling with the same issues.
It is unfortunate that Y2K hasn’t been given the billing it deserves, for the “Millennium Bug” is where many of us first learned how fragile the fabric of every day survival really is; like dominoes, first one thing we took for granted could be toppled, then the next, and the next.
Did you become a Prepper because of Y2K, and if so, how did it change your lifestyle? How about today…anyone who you’re close to who denies anything is wrong or who refuses to take action? Please share by commenting below!
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Chapter 33, part 2 of 3 has been posted. You can Click Here to continue reading.
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva