Emergency calls went through, the power stayed on and we didn’t go back into the dark ages.
But at this time on New Year’s Eve, 1999, no one knew for sure what was going to happen.
The Y2K bug, a line of computer code that could not recognize dates beyond 1999, sent many people into a panic 20 years ago.
KELOLAND News was live on the air for three hours on December 31, 1999, as we waited for the new millennium to see if mayhem would arrive along with it.
December 31, 1999:
Doug Lund: Metro Communications 911 will be the nerve center of Minnehaha County Jessica Armstrong is there.
Jessica Armstrong: Doug, everyone here is waiting for the same thing, the stroke of Midnight.
Survivalists stockpiled food and everyone waited to see what would shut down when the clock struck Midnight in the new millennium.
“Many flights were cancelled here and that’s because of two reasons–many people just didn’t buy the tickets, Beth Jensen said in a KELOLAND News Report on December 31, 1999.
20 years ago, people relied on landline phones. The telephone company spent years and $275 million to prevent the glitch from taking out telephone service.
The City of Sioux Falls even hired a Y2K planner and 12 people worked for more than a year to prepare the City.
“We defined our worst case scenario in Sioux Falls as a 72-hour total blackout in the community,” Sioux Falls Y2K Planner Mike Hall said in 1999.
While the Y2K bug was real, officials were confident disaster had been adverted months in advance.
“A lot of waiting and expecting that nothing was going to happen,” Hill said.
Don Hill was the Sioux Falls fire chief at the time.
“Also really early in the day here, the date had already changed in New Zealand. And so it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be a big event, Hill said.
Just as Hill expected, the year 2000, was ushered in without major incident.
“Sioux Falls Y2K war room was quiet New Year’s Eve as the new century rolled out without any power outages or other major problems,” John Bachman reported in January of 2000.
“Things get solidified in your memory when something big happens. This was one of those cases where nothing big happened, Hill said.
Hill credits all the preparation for the anti-climactic ending to Y2K. 20 years later he reflects on how it helped government and the private sector unknowingly prepare for another major event.
“This was really the first large-scale event that I can remember that we did that and just 21-months later then was 911 and all of those relationships that we had made, really made a big difference on how we were able to deal with large scale emergencies since that time,” Hill said.