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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: February 4, 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?
In 1965 I was 7 years old, and remember watching TV, and the

screen started to flicker, and the lights began to dim. I

went to the window, and saw all the lights going out. There

was an accident on the corner, and alot of people of the streets. In 1977, I was 19 years old, watching TV, when the

picture went out. I turned on the radio, and the only station on was WABC. I have a tape of George Michael hosting the blackout coverage.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Not enough safeguards and no-faults on the system.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Under estimating the amount of power needed in a particular area at any given time. It's a given that in the summer, more power is needed. It should be better planned out by all the power companies working together, not seperatly.

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?
They brought attention to the danger posed by blackouts, not only by how people behave, but shows how the lack of planning and preperation can have serious ramifications on society at large. (I.E., looting, riots, fires, etc)

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
In 1965 it was kind of fine being a kid in the dark, and not understanding what was really going on. In 1977, being much older,and listening to the radio, and hearing all that was going on was very serious, which is one reason I'm glad to have it on tape.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was stunned that such a thing could actually happen, not only the first time, but a second time!

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
There is no comparison. A brownout or normal power failure is usually a localized incident, not affecting a large portion of an area like the large blackouts. This is not to say that service or restoration is any better. Sometimes it is also worse.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Only in my older years did I understand what really happaned and how truly unprepared ConEd really was. After seeing a special on the History Channel about the blackouts did many aspects seem to light up the subject. (Could not resist the pun!)

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
They seemed the same to me at the time(s), but looking back I think that the 1965 blackout was more violent, and poorly handled, while the 1977 blackout was much calmer, with much more information available, giving constant updates.

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

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
It showed how violent society can truly be, and how unprepared an entire city can be to a large problem such as this.

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:
Actually, it sound quite the opposite to what I remember! That does not mean I'm right and you are wrong; it's just a faded memory trying to come to the light of day.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #36, The Blackout History Project, 4 February 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/36/>.
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