Floyd Virginia -- John Hammell claimed that the world would plunge into chaos due to a coming 2000 computer bug (Y2K) meltdown. Hammel 41 left his Miami home, which he said would be dangerous, for safety in the hills of Virginia in Floyd County. There the single man became a survivalist, stockpiling food, water and chopping his own firewood. He lived in a trailer with kerosene lamps. Hammel said, "I wanted to be in a place that had a history of self-sufficiency, where my neighbors are prepared and not panicking."
Many Y2K types claimed a future holocaust and sought refuge in Floyd County, which is in the Blue Ridge Mountains about 230 miles southwest of Richmond. The land is cheap and taxes are low there. Water is also plentiful and not polluted due to the high elevation.
Bill Truitt, 68, moved to Floyd County before the Y2K panic, but soon decided became a leader within a Y2K effort called the "Cassandra Project." Cassandra was a Greek mythological character known for her disbelieved prophecies of impending danger. Obviously though the Y2K scare was an unfulfilled prophecy that fell flat. However, Truitt once claimed there would be "greater disruptions than the government would lead us to believe."
During the Civil War deserters came to Floyd County. Later it was known for its illegally distilled whiskey or "moonshine." Followers of psychic Edgar Cayce once went to Floyd seeking safety from a nuclear catastrophe. The county has a history of attracting counter-culture types, malcontents and eccentrics.
Ken Griffith, a computer programmer bought hundreds of acres in Floyd County and then sold lots for a community called Rivendell (a name from Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings"), which would be safe for Y2K. He sold 20 of his 28 lots during the height of the scare in 1999. One buyer said, "I pray that we're wrong, but [Y2K] has the potential to really disrupt our civilization."
Y2K was certainly good for business in Floyd County. Stores received bulk orders for survival items, canned goods and foodstuffs. Wood cook stoves and kerosene lamps became hot items according to locals. But in the end big business was the big news about Y2K, which passed by without any calamity.
Notes: This article is based upon "Seventh-Day Adventists: Elder Unfazed by Y2K,"The Salt Lake Tribune, June 26, 1999 By Bob Mims