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July 11, 2003
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 a ten year old Cuban American little girl. My mom and I had just come back from the dentist. Mother was getting dinner and I was taking a shower. All of a sudden I felt the room grow dark and there was a lot of banging coming from the door. It was my brother telling me to get out because the lights had gone off.
I quickly got dressed and went carefully out of the bathroom. I could hear mom and my auntie who lived downstairs talking about the lights going out. The first reaction was that the power had gone off only at our place but when they looked outside all the neigborhood was pitch black.
There was no time for panic. The adults gathered all the children around the living room and prepared us with flashlights. They told us to keep our shoes on in case of an emergency. I could hear them talking about a comunnist plot or the end of the world. No one had ever experienced anything like this before.
To make it worst our dads were not at home but stuck some where on the way from work. It seemed like hours before the door opened and there was my dad and my uncle. They had made it back safely. We heard the local news from them and it wasn't very good. The people in their cars were stuck for hours on the bridge. Somehow the night passed and I don't recall much. The next day we heard that we had a power failure. I don't remeber , since so many years have passed if there was school the next day but I know for sure it was talked about for many days.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Maybe a communist plot or???????????
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I think that the machinery were not equipped to handle so much public demand.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It was part of history I knew that it would go down in the history pages because New York is a great city.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I am always careful to take a flash light when I travel.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
NOt much impact.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
I gues when you have a power failure you know that it will be fixed in a short while however blackouts you are not really certain when and how things will return to nomal.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Well, didn't the company break up into smaller companies. I felt it was just human error. No one really wanted to have the city without lights.
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
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:
the story is not the way I recall because after the black out 1965 there were crimes committed but not reported. I think by 1977 the media played a larger role in reporting the news.
Story #206, The Blackout History Project, 11 July 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/206/>.
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