Chicago preps for Y2K 'blizzard'

City officials Wednesday teamed with 7-Eleven Inc., Kmart Corp. and five other retailers to persuade its citizens to shop now for supplies they would need if the Year 2000 computer problem were to disrupt electricity, water or other services.

As part of the partnership, the seven retailers will distribute approximately 570,000 fliers and hang more than 440 posters produced by the city. The materials suggest sensible ways to get ready for the weekend without cleaning out store shelves.

The stores were interested in encouraging early preparation, said Barrett Murphy, Chicago's Year 2000 project co-manager. But "they didn't want to be the ones telling people to buy groceries -- they thought that would be inappropriate."

The city began to work with the retailers, particularly the grocery stores, about six months ago, to make sure they were ready for any spike in business, Murphy said.

Chicago has distributed 1 million brochures on Year 2000 readiness through other venues, including schools, libraries and park facilities. The city also has teamed with regional utilities on Year 2000-related campaigns.

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