It never hurts
to be prepared
for Y2K, says
Military HQ has sold disasterA 'convenient excuse to panic''
necessities -- but will refuse returns
if the stuff isn't needed
By Suzanne Tswei
One of two scenarios could usher in the new year for Sandii Kamaunu, and she isn't thrilled about starting the millennium with either.
If the Y2K computer bug brings a worldwide meltdown as some have predicted, she will have to confront impatient customers clamoring for more military food rations, water purification tablets and other disaster necessities.
But if the Y2K apocalypse turns out to be nothing more than the fantasies of worrywarts, she will have another problem that requires just as much patience and diplomacy.
Kamaunu knows the people who had bought survival goods from her military surplus store will be rushing in to return everything. "That's why I have a big sign that says 'All sales final.' I know people will try to get me to take back the stuff. I just know it."
But she is prepared to deal with either situation. She was a Girl Scout and a farmer's daughter. She is used to disasters and emergencies.
"It never hurts to be prepared. Better be prepared than sorry," says Kamaunu, general manager of Military HQ on Sand Island. She has stocked up a three-month supply of food and other survival goods for her family.
"I am prepared enough. If the power goes out, you just have to keep your priorities straight. Eat the ice cream first -- because it will melt. Don't laugh. You have to have a plan. First the ice cream, then the meat. What you have to eat first is the stuff that's going to go bad. Then you have your canned food and rations."
Survival isn't only a matter of having enough food and other goods for daily needs, but also keeping the right frame of mind, she says. Be positive, be helpful to others and, most of all, don't panic.
Having lived in Hawaii for 30 years, Kamaunu believes the aloha spirit will prevail if disaster strikes. "I think people will maintain and help each other. It won't be chaotic. Everybody will pitch in."
Even if Y2K OK,
fear is real
'Some people simply needBy Suzanne Tswei
something to worry about'
The fear of it all: two little digits causing computers to malfunction and thus bringing the world to a crash.
By now it would be clear whether Y2K is merely a computer bug or a worldwide catastrophe. Either way, the fear has been real.
"Some people simply need something to worry about, and the combination of the end of the century and the Y2K bug gives them a convenient excuse to panic," says Tina Pippin, professor of religion, who has given a lot of thought to the subject. "There are religious fundamentalists and secular people, too, who think of it as the modern-day apocalypse."
"Some people need to view the new millennium as the end of the world, and if they're not concerned about Y2K, then they'll find something else," says Pippin, who specializes in apocalyptic literature in her research of religion and culture. She teaches at Agnes Scott College, a liberal arts college for women in Atlanta.
Getting ready for potential Y2K problems, such as getting extra food and cash, is sensible. But some people overreact by hoarding supplies, building underground bunkers and stockpiling weapons. The excessive planning is a way to regain control, she says.
"Actually, it's a catharsis. It's a way for people to release their fears."
On the other hand, excessive fear over Y2K can lead to anxiety attacks, says Stephenie Modero, who works with people suffering from anxiety. Modero is the facilitator of Pacific Anxiety Resources, which offers anxiety education and support groups through Queen's Medical Center. She has not seen anyone suffering from anxiety caused by Y2K in her support groups.
"Anxiety is kind of built into our system. It's a natural response to anything real or just a perceived threat. It's a response mechanism that helped ensure the human species' survival," says Modero.
"Hoarding is a way for us to protect ourselves against the unknown. It's good to be prepared, but the problem is, people can overprepare. It can take over their lives."
Abnormal anxiety comes without provocation or apparent logic, and it can cause symptoms similar to heart attacks, nausea and hyperventilation.
The key to combat fear and anxiety is to understand the cause, Modero says. Some people may be predisposed to anxiety, particularly women. Understanding ourselves and accepting that we don't have full control are important to overcoming anxiety. Medical care and support groups also can help.
"We need to understand where the anxiety comes from. Y2K is the unknown. People are scared of the unknown, but people are doing it to themselves. They are buying into their own fears."