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Contributed by: Julian Stubbins
Contributed on: August 18, 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?
This one was in cold weather. Fortuantely we had a gas driven refrigerator, oven and range in our house in Lincoln, MA. So we survived ok. I thought the 1965 was more widespread than this last one.
A lot of babies were born 9 months later

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
In both situations, the domino effect. I suspect that too much reliance on automation and not enough human watching the equipment.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Lack of decentralization. Was deregulation a factor?

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?
Besides the inconvenience and dollar cost, the effect on our faith in a product we take for granted

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Merely inconvenient

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was very surprised that this could happen again, particularly in the same region. I expected that procedures were in place to prevent the reoccurance after 1965.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
I've be through a few due to storms, overloads on the grids,etc. Rarely have they lasted more than 24 hours or covered an area of more than a few square miles.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
None. I'll wait for the investigations to be completed. I doubt that Con Ed will be found to have failed to perform. But I am not even close to expertise on the subject.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Both were wide ranging. Time of year a big factor. As I recall, Montreal had over 55 commercial aircraft parked on ramps away from gate areas. There were not sufficient ground power units (so they had to keep the engines running to keep passengers and crew from freezing. There were not enough portable stair to deplane the passengers. A big mess.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
You had to wonder if:
1. Terrorists
2. A test by the government of our response capacity?

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 ecomomy was much healthier in 1965, weather was colder (rage lower), less homeless, faith in the infastructure and government stronger. In 1977, summer, much dissent in the aftermath of Vietnahm.

Cite as: Julian Stubbins, Story #290, The Blackout History Project, 18 August 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/290/>.
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