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August 15, 2003
Which blackout(s) did you experience?
Other (please specify)
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?
Sitting at my desk, happily chatting on the phone, the lights flickered and went out. Not so unusual for a hot summer day and then another flicker and my computer went dark. A peak out the window showed that the jumbotron outside of Macy’s was dark as were the lights that usually drew attention to Madison Square Garden. A wave of panic went through the office, and we all made our way to the dark, crowded stairway.
We hit the streets greeted by an assault of hot air and hundreds of people standing outside the surrounding buildings. The streetlights were out and midtown traffic was mayhem. I tried desperately to reach family and friends on my cell phone to no avail. I began to walk shaking and alone. There was an eerie familiarity to all this as a river of people flowed down the city streets. My eyes darted all around me sweating both from the intense heat and the nervousness that was heightening. Around me people shouted, cursed at their cell phones waited on line for pay phones and some were even crying. I just continued to walk. Suddenly my eyes rested on a familiar face and then I knew I would be safe.
The commute home was treacherous, but four hours later, drenched with sweat, feet blistered and bodies aching we walked through our front door. Darkness still had a hold of the city that never sleeps but we were home safe and sound.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
On one hand we can view as the blackout just happened, lightening struck and the power went out or we can see it as a way to keep New Yorkers on their toes and to prove that we truly can get through anything.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Both were significant
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
I feel all of the blackouts including 2003's significant, it certainly impacts lives and teaches us a lesson in human nature. It may also teach us in the long run how to stop this from happening in the future.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
The blackout caused a 4 hour commute home for me, it was hot and my feet are blistered but more importantly it showed how a city could stand together. We talked to people we never would have, and it was nice to see. And also my fiance and I spent a night surrounded my candles and our cats just talking. It was a good reminder of what's truly important.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
We are still waiting to hear the full scope but I'm proud of the city for handling things so well so far.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Normal power failures don't generally last so long nor have I had them affect my work place for such a duration and my commute home.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I feel they are doing the best they can to get NYC back up and running but I'm thinking maybe a better emergency system might be needed or at least updated.
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?
Became less reliant
If other, please specify:
I think I'm going to have to become less reliant the loss of the little things should not have that much power over me.
Story #258, The Blackout History Project, 15 August 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/258/>.
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