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Contributed by: Brian Otto
Contributed on: October 18, 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?
I was in the middle of Coldwater Lake, in the south central part of Michigan. We decided to get dinner at the local waterfront restaurant, which we visited two nights earlier. As we approached the dock, a man ran out and said the restaurant was closed, due to no power. It seemed odd, but we had food on board to sustain us for the day.
Later, we made a couple cell phone calls, with no reply. Then, we tried land phones, and found out that my girlfriend's business had closed (the entire building!) due to no power. Finally, we tried our home phones, and found out from our families that the power was out everywhere! There wasn't much we could do, so we made sure everything was cool at home, and continued to enjoy our warm, summer day on a beautiful lake in the great state of Michigan. We came home the next day with every supply we could fit into our car. We packed several LP tanks, ice, coolers and bottled water. We enjoyed a beautiful day outside, celebrating my son's birthday and the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Excessive demand and human failure.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I believe we increase the demand for power every year. Most of the "extra" power we generate is caused by waste in appliance use and laziness. We need to be more responsible, and turn off the electrical items that we really aren't using. I think people in general don't take advantage of beautiful summer weather, and need to be entertained by all of the electronic gadgets we now produce.

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 believe they were significant because people get used to all of the luxurious items we own that require fuel from fossil sources. We forget about the ways we used to entertain ourselves, which required imagination, socialization and exercise.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
The blackout didn't affect me and most people I know. In my local area, we are close to two public safety departments. Our power was off between 18 and 36 hours in various areas.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
This year, I believe people coped quite well. People shared grills, food, beverages and generally used the time wisely. Citizens realized that the basics in life, commaraderie and enjoying the good old outdoors, are what make our world a wonderful place to be.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
The blackouts and "normal" power failures are practically the same in my experiences.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I believe they are as competent as any other power generator.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
No

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
No

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:
In light of all the conditions, it's not really surprising.

Cite as: Brian Otto, Story #305, The Blackout History Project, 18 October 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/305/>.
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