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August 20, 2000
Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1965 (Great Northeast Blackout)
In your own words, tell the story of your experience in the blackout(s). Try to recall specific events and the people, places, and things involved; also include more general reactions, images adn last impressions?
I was living in Central New York Rome, New York. I was listening to music on my Stereo. The lights began to dim and the television lost it's picture and the turntable began to slow down and speed up. The lights pulsing of the lights became more pronounced getting dimmer and then really bright. Then the power went off and came back on again. This time the pulsing of the lights was worse. When the lights were dim they were very dim and at there brightest they were barely half as bright as normal. We turned on the radio & listened for news about the blackout. We then went over to a friends house and played cards by candle light. There was a lot of talk about sabotage.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I work in the control room for a large New York State Utility and know the cause now, but back then we all thought is was a problem at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. But no one really new.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Lack of adequate spinning reserve energy. That is energy that is already connected to the grid and ready to produce additional energy when necessary. Also at the time it was lack of adequate understanding of the interconnected grid that comprises the power system.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
At the time we were concerned because of the cold war state and we thought it might have been sabotage or a nuclear war had started.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Just a minor inconvenience. Temperatures were warm and nobody was cold, or too hot. Lights came back on around 09:45 PM that night.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
The only people we felt were adversely affected were those trapped in Elevators and subways in New York City and the traffic tie ups. But everyone stayed at home.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
No worse than any other black out and at least it was not cold out. We were warm.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I did not live in Con Edision's Franchise Service Territory, so I have no Opinion, but I think the upstate Utilities NIMO, NYSEG & RGE did a great job getting the power back on.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
No effect / same reliance
If other, please specify:
Our power was not out as long as it was in some places so I was not as profoundly affected as some might have been who lived in an area that was without power for 10 or 12 hours.
This is how the story goes: In November of 1965 the lights went out in New York and crime rates temporarily dropped; there were widespread reports of extraordinary cooperation and trust between strangers caught together in the power failure. In July of 1977, little more than a decade later, the lights went out again in New York. This time, a devastating wave of looting and arson broke out. Does this story ring true to you? Explain why or why not:
Yes, Most every one was going to the neighbor next door to try to find out what they might have heard on the radio. We were listening to stations in Boston, New York and Buffalo to try to find out what was happening.
Story #113, The Blackout History Project, 20 August 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/113/>.
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