Texas - Corpus Christi and Rio Grande Valley outages after midnight 1/1/00

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(One paragraph in this article [italics mine] mentions power outages which occurred after midnight 1/1/00 in the Corpus Christi and Rio Grande Valley areas of Texas. I see there are other posts in the "Electric Power" category about Texas outages. Being unfamiliar with the state, I'm unable to connect the areas.)

Sunday, January 2, 2000

Y2K threat fades into history; city officials focus on other priorities.... As with international and national reports, few problems detected in city as 2000 dawns

By Jonathan Osborne, Caller-Times Becky Hilpipre and her husband, Curt, spent the first moments of the new millennium asleep. All that seemed different about the century's change was the television coverage of worldwide New Year's celebrations.

"But that got old after awhile," said Hilpipre, a Corpus Christi homemaker.

"We watched the new millennium for Washington, D.C., which is where we're moving in March. We normally stay home. We call New Year's amateur night because of the drunks. Once the ball dropped, we went to bed. We were there by 11."

The couple wasn't nervous about any Y2K bugs, and apparently they had no reason to be.

Like the rest of the country, Corpus Christi rolled into the new century smoothly with no major technological glitches, at least as of Saturday night.

"Are we going to be ready for business on Monday morning?" said Juan Ortiz, the city's assistant emergency management coordinator. "Yes, we are."

Area banks and ATMs passed the night without a hitch, and systems were tested Saturday morning to make sure everything's a go for Monday, 2000's first day of business. "Our testing this morning shows everything is up and running," said Pacific Southwest Bank president Jack Wright.

"When we get through with (Saturday), it'll make Monday a normal day."

All the banks had extra cash ready for a demand that never came. On New Year's Eve, most reported no increased demand, as customers saw the Eastern Hemisphere's banks make successful transitions.

"We geared up for 40 percent more than last year, and we never used anywhere near that," Wright said.

Southwestern Bell managed the transition from a command center in San Antonio, where a Y2K team rang in the new year with a non-alcoholic toast and a glitch-free transition, the company said.

Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley had scattered power outages New Year's Eve and shortly after midnight, said Central Power and Light spokeswoman Jessica Mahaffey, but the incidents weren't Y2K-related. Minor national problems

The country didn't experience too many surprises either.

U.S. officials found only a handful of problems in essential services such as electricity and communications.

Five nuclear power plants reported minor computer problems, and the Pentagon disclosed that a reconnaissance satellite had been blinded for a few hours.

Federal government officials said the problem was corrected after a few hours of using a backup system, but by midday Saturday the Defense Department had not yet returned to "normal peace-time operation."

Nuclear power plants reported minor Y2K-related problems with computer systems used for support functions, such as security access or analyzing weather data.

"None of those glitches affected anything to do with safe operations and most were corrected immediately after discovery," said John Koskinen, the nation's Y2K chief.

Prepared for the worst

On Corpus Christi's bayfront, George Mendez, 41, walked away from the New Year's Eve celebration feeling at ease.

"All the scariness has gone away," Mendez said. "Everyone can relax and have a happy New Year. And a happy new millennium."

Mayor Loyd Neal said the celebration and the rollover into the year 2000 went as expected.

"For two years, the city and all the other governmental entities have been planning, converting and executing to make Y2K a non-event," Neal said. "That's exactly what happened."

The city's emergency operations center shut down officially at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Ortiz said. Secondary tests resumed at about 8 a.m. Saturday morning and Ortiz said all systems had checked out by 4 p.m.

"This is not to say that down the line we won't find some small problem," Ortiz said. "When we see them we'll correct them."

The city spent about $10 million dollars preparing for potential problems, replacing antiquated systems with Y2K compliant counterparts, developing contingency plans and trouble shooting.

"You're going to get a lot of people saying, 'Nothing happened, we wasted all this time and money,' " Ortiz said. "But if you really think about it, the country, when it comes to preparedness, has climbed up a couple of notches because of this."

The rollover into 2000 also was an opportunity for the city to prepare for an actual disaster, such as a hurricane, Ortiz said. Back to basics

County Judge Richard Borchard said that now that the Coastal Bend and the country have successfully rolled over into 2000, it's time for business to return to normal.

"Now we can focus and concentrate on other things, concentrate on the delivery of basic services, like roads and bridges - things that are sometimes not very flashy or sexy but things that are very important to our people," Borchard said.

And it's time to stop talking about Y2K, he said, and start talking about the future.

"If somebody uses the word Y2K after today, I'm going to send them to Siberia or something," Borchard said.

Staff writers Darren Barbee, Tara Copp, Andrea Jares, Stephanie Jordan and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Staff writer Jonathan Osborne can be reached at 886-3716 or by e-mail at osbornej@caller.com

Source: Corpus Christi Caller Times of Texas


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), March 15, 2000

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