New York power outage
August 14, 2003 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Massive New York power outage? Boing Boing is among the first to report that a massive power outage just hit much of the Northeast, including New York, Cleveland and Detroit. CNN's breaking news just confirmed it.
posted by waxpancake (191 comments total)
 
Toronto and Ottawa and Toledo as well.
posted by machaus at 1:35 PM on August 14, 2003


WTF!?!?!?!
posted by adampsyche at 1:35 PM on August 14, 2003


Con Ed plant is on fire in NY. Explosion on 14th Street in Manhattan. Uh oh.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:35 PM on August 14, 2003


my boyfriend just sent me an sms to find out why the power is out in canada. he said that the west coast in the u.s. is out too.
posted by alicila at 1:35 PM on August 14, 2003


We got power back right away in New Jersey. Just a little brownout, really.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:36 PM on August 14, 2003


The New York Times homepage says it extends, "North to Toronto, South to Maryland and West to Cleveland and Detroit." They're all on the same power grid? It doesn't make much sense.

Everything's fine here in Los Angeles.
posted by waxpancake at 1:37 PM on August 14, 2003


Our power is back on in NJ, but my wife is in NYC and is walking down the stairs from the 15th floor, she hears people screaming in the elevator.
posted by adampsyche at 1:37 PM on August 14, 2003


the west coast is not blacked out.
KevinSkomsvold: any links?
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:39 PM on August 14, 2003


Good thing Jason and the server moved to Boston, eh?
posted by machaus at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2003


Phil says Albany, Hartford, and Syracuse are all out. Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire are apparently unaffected.
posted by waxpancake at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2003


Apparently Boston is fine, or this server would be off right now.
posted by mathowie at 1:41 PM on August 14, 2003


KevinSkomsvold: any links?
Just watching CNN as I type. All of it is speculation at this point. I'm waiting for the lights to go out in Chicago.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:42 PM on August 14, 2003


Yep, no worries in Massachusetts.
posted by yhbc at 1:42 PM on August 14, 2003


KCRW has live internet radio coverage if you want to hear live coverage right now.
posted by lhl at 1:43 PM on August 14, 2003


nobody panic, texas still has juice!
posted by Peter H at 1:44 PM on August 14, 2003


(i should always ammend my texas jokes to saying i'm in austin and really dislike all the rest of the state) but we have juice!
posted by Peter H at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2003


Unconfirmed reports of a plauge of locusts heading from the south.
posted by adampsyche at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2003


The terrorists have already won.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2003


Unconfirmed reports of a plauge of locusts heading from the south.

*pictures John Belushi's eyebrows from that sewer scene in Blues Brothers*

Is the power grid that consolidated that one alleged explosion would blackout that many cities?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:48 PM on August 14, 2003


Via CNN: Niagara-Mohawk power grid overloaded by demand.
posted by machaus at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2003


CNN says the Niagara Mohawk Power Grid over loaded

Not A Terrorist Attack
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2003


thanks for th' radio link lhl
posted by Peter H at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2003


KCRW says the Niagara Mohawk power grid was overloaded, and this may have just been an accident. No evidence of terrorist activity.
posted by waxpancake at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2003


apparently the "niagra mohawk power grid" overloaded due to natural causes and took the system down, according to some official on the radio.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:50 PM on August 14, 2003


Budapest: A-OK!
posted by djacobs at 1:51 PM on August 14, 2003


The grid was taken down by the 50-foot tall Son of En-Ron!

Someone call Godzilla and Gamera! We need their help!
posted by tittergrrl at 1:51 PM on August 14, 2003


*bends down to smooch battery backup*
posted by adampsyche at 1:52 PM on August 14, 2003


They're all on the same power grid? It doesn't make much sense.

The new issue of Wired proposes in 20 years the whole world will be on the same grid. The illustration with the article suggests that Canada and the US already are. I cannot imagine the connection between both countries could be severed by the elimination of one facility tho.
posted by thirteen at 1:53 PM on August 14, 2003


I just got a papercut but there was no evidence of terrorist activity.
posted by bondcliff at 1:53 PM on August 14, 2003


Somebody must have plugged in their Dancing Santa.
posted by arco at 1:53 PM on August 14, 2003


"She lives in the Niagara-Mohawk power grid. You wouldn't know her."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:55 PM on August 14, 2003


Unconfirmed reports of a plauge of locusts heading from the south.

We warned you we'd rise again. This time God's on our side. And not that wimpy New Testament one. No sir, the hardass Old Testament version.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:55 PM on August 14, 2003


How exactly was Gray Davis responsible for *this* power crisis?
posted by Slothrup at 1:56 PM on August 14, 2003


I'm right on the edge of New York State in Bennington, Vermont where we still have power. My mom just called on her cell phone from work in Utica, NY to see what was going on and apparently pretty much all of NY is out. What a mess.
posted by stefnet at 1:56 PM on August 14, 2003




Budapest: A-OK!


I hope she stays that way! ^_^
posted by thirteen at 1:56 PM on August 14, 2003


Con Ed plant is on fire in NY. Explosion on 14th Street in Manhattan. Uh oh.

according to mayor bloomberg, the smoke coming out of the con-ed facility was part of the fail-safe shutdown runoff, not an explosion.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2003


God is getting even with those savage Mohawks.
posted by sharksandwich at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2003


I am picturing jonmc leading a scavenging horde of New Yorkers in a quest for internet access and snack foods.
posted by yhbc at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2003


i insist that we attack the paper factories and have a change of regime for the sake of bondcliff, who knows what other weapons of mass abrasion they might be hiding
posted by Peter H at 1:58 PM on August 14, 2003


Complete pandemonium here in (NY-bordering) CT. No traffic-lights in the middle of rush hour. Took my colleague 15 mins to cross 2 streets to get onto the highway - which is completely clogged. It'll take me 2 hours to drive the 20 mins to my house. Fuck.
posted by widdershins at 1:58 PM on August 14, 2003


Somebody must have plugged in their Dancing Santa.

I blame that Clark Griswold bastard.
posted by Optamystic at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2003


mr_crash_davis - did you borrow your cousin's shoes today?
posted by jonah at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2003


This wouldn't happen if Arnold was governor of CA. Bush is expected to address the area after power is back on. Message: Go Shopping!
posted by whatever at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2003


"No evidence of terrorist activity."

Just explosions, fires, and a regional power outage. Nothing to see here. Move along. Everything is fine. There is no emergancy, it's just part of our Homeland Security fail-safe shutdown runoff.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2003


Articles from CNN, MSNBC, Reuters. And as always, you can rely on Yahoo's Message Boards for intelligent and informative commentary.

I blame the Y2K bug.
posted by waxpancake at 2:03 PM on August 14, 2003


Let's make some babies.
posted by piskycritter at 2:03 PM on August 14, 2003


This sounds like the Great Blackout of 1965 - one station overloads, and then the rest progressively go out as they try to increase power to make up for the one that's out. In the mists of my memory, I thought I remember seeing a documentary where they explained what they learned from 1965, and how such a thing could never happen again. I wonder if this is actually a different set of circumstances altogether, or if the grid was still vulnerable to the same scenario.
posted by Chanther at 2:04 PM on August 14, 2003


They're all on the same power grid? It doesn't make much sense.

Back in 1965 one faulty relay in Ontario sent the whole eastern-seaboard dark for hours.
posted by timeistight at 2:04 PM on August 14, 2003


Bush is expected to address the area after power is back on
mah fluuhoo merrcans, turror turror turror.
al kaydo turror. bring it on. less roll. turror turror turror.
posted by Peter H at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2003


*puts down plastic sheeting and duct tape*
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2003


I welcome our new Amish overlords.
posted by junkbox at 2:06 PM on August 14, 2003


Yeah, watch for a baby boom in 9 mos. "Yeah, son, you were conceived in an elevator during a power outage..."
posted by SpecialK at 2:07 PM on August 14, 2003


my wife is in NYC and is walking down the stairs from the 15th floor, she hears people screaming in the elevator.

I can only imagine what its like for a New Yorker to suddenly be confined to an elevator, no lights, no idea what's going on. Screaming, indeed.

Plus, nothing like a little innocuous panic to beef up the poll numbers. No?
posted by the fire you left me at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2003


My we're jumpy.
posted by scarabic at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2003


I'm going to go meet Richard Dryfuss at Devil's Tower.
posted by bondcliff at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2003


And as always, you can rely on Yahoo's Message Boards for intelligent and informative commentary.

Wow, that's some harsh shit they're posting over there.
posted by COBRA! at 2:09 PM on August 14, 2003


This article is the most detailed I've seen so far.
posted by waxpancake at 2:09 PM on August 14, 2003


Dammit! When I saw the Olsen Twins getting into the elevator I thought 'get some excercise and take the stairs, you'll see them again'
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:10 PM on August 14, 2003


Brewster: The virus (MSBLAST) has affected SKYNET?

John Connor: No... SKYNET IS THE VIRUS! Today is judgement day!
posted by Stan Chin at 2:10 PM on August 14, 2003


Hunh. It hit us, in Ottawa. We kicked over to the generator backup at almost exactly 4:15, and I've spent the past 45 minutes nursemaiding instruments and computers back to life.
posted by bonehead at 2:10 PM on August 14, 2003


We have power in the Milwaukee, also... cameras.

Will this affect the stock market?

Not that it matters to me, but just thought of that now.
posted by drezdn at 2:11 PM on August 14, 2003


Peter H, you forgot "murca murca murca"

All is well in DC, by the way.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:12 PM on August 14, 2003


"Will this affect the stock market?"

Well, the electronic after-hours markets will be closed, if that's what you're getting at, which means I'll be sitting here twiddling my thumbs.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:15 PM on August 14, 2003


The stock market was closed anyway. Amazing how fast the web is running now without all those bandwidth hogging Montrealers.
posted by dness2 at 2:16 PM on August 14, 2003


I bet it was these guys.
posted by bondcliff at 2:20 PM on August 14, 2003


> We have power in the Milwaukee, also... cameras.

We have power in Georgia. Also indoor plumbing, some of us.
posted by jfuller at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2003


again, no one panic, texas is fine!

although by what i'm hearing over the radio over how well nyc'ers are handling this situation i would really enjoy the chuckle and contrast over watching dallas and houston babies handle the loss of power AND THEIR CELL PHONES
posted by Peter H at 2:24 PM on August 14, 2003


All clear here in Maine, so it's not "the entire northeast"
posted by nelleish at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2003


Hey, how much do you want to bet that the metafilter server is just running on battery backup at the moment, and will go down at any moment?
posted by SpecialK at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2003


Those CNN pictures of the bus station makes it look like a flashmob gone horribly wrong...
posted by tapeguy at 2:29 PM on August 14, 2003


SpecialK: It's in Boston now, isn't it?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:30 PM on August 14, 2003


Here's a real-time chart from the New York Independent System Operator showing the current supply and demand of electricity in New York.
posted by waxpancake at 2:31 PM on August 14, 2003


The power is out here, may this carrier pigeon running tcp/ip find you well.

Seriously, I just saw two fighter jets circle downtown Chicago from the high-rise I'm in. Someone is paranoid about something.
posted by skallas at 2:31 PM on August 14, 2003


What's very odd is that in the middle of reading this, the power in our building at Cisco Systems here in Phoenix, AZ went out. Power in still on in the street from what I can see, but it kind of looks like power in buildings across the street is out. Thank goodness for laptops and battery backups on switches and routers.
posted by crawl at 2:32 PM on August 14, 2003


DEFCON 1, Bears over the Pole. God bless you Richard Nixon, wherever you are.
posted by m@ at 2:35 PM on August 14, 2003


Seriously, I just saw two fighter jets circle downtown Chicago from the high-rise I'm in. Someone is paranoid about something.

I'm guessing they're practicing for the Air & Water Show this weekend, not patrolling for evildoers.
posted by sandor at 2:37 PM on August 14, 2003


skallas:

The fighter jets are probably practicing for the Air and Water show that's this weekend here in Chicago.

Probably.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:38 PM on August 14, 2003


The authorities had better hope the power comes back soon. I'm just waiting for the sun to go down. The news channel footage of the cops trying to prevent mass looting will be hilarious.
posted by tapeguy at 2:39 PM on August 14, 2003


Skallas--it's the Air and Water show this weekend, you're seeing the practice runs (there goes one now!).
posted by macadamiaranch at 2:40 PM on August 14, 2003


I would just like to say that I am opposed to power outages, and if my side was in charge, this wouldn't have happened.
posted by 2sheets at 2:42 PM on August 14, 2003


The news channel footage of the cops trying to prevent mass looting will be hilarious.

Yea, that would be fuckin' funny. Idiot.

(well done 2sheets :)
posted by Witty at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2003


power is still on in salt lake city (just adding my data point)
posted by jacobsee at 2:47 PM on August 14, 2003


the air and water show is this weekend here in chicago. it is customary for them to begin practice the thursday before the air and water show. the fighter jets you see are for our entertainment.
posted by alicila at 2:49 PM on August 14, 2003


ahh, thanks for the explanation about the power jets. i got freaked out when i heard those, too.
posted by sugarfish at 2:49 PM on August 14, 2003


It would be interesting to see how NYC handles a night without power in 2003 compared to the downright friendly atmosphere during the blackout in 1965.
posted by linux at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2003


ok, damnit, we HAVE to have a chicago meetup. there are too many of y'all hearing the same damn jets i am.
posted by sugarfish at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2003


I wouldn't be so quick to discount the possibility that this was caused by a terrorist attack -
frontline: cyber war!: vulnerabilities: the power grid?

In a potential cyber attack on the U.S., there are experts who believe one of the targets could be the country's electric power grid. By exploiting vulnerabilities in the control systems utility companies use to remotely monitor and manage their operations, U.S. cities could be blacked out for extended periods of time.

...

When we go after an electrical power system, electrical power provider for the critical infrastructures, we always penetrate that system. And we do that in a number of ways: through social engineering, through cyber means. What this points out is that there are a number of vulnerabilities that exist for a certain level of adversary. This doesn't mean that there's no security or that we can penetrate with the simplest means. It just means as a sophisticated adversary, as a national lab, we are eventually able to get in.

The fact that we're able to penetrate these systems all the time is significant in that it shows that industry isn't able to apply security mechanisms to their critical infrastructures. This is for a couple of reasons. Number one, they don't have a business case to apply that security, and the awareness is being raised now where they're starting to realize that this may be important.

... Could your team, if you wanted to, take down the entire grid in the United States?

The IDART red team could demonstrate numerous vulnerabilities and system effects against U.S. critical infrastructure that are scenario-dependent and adversary-dependent, and we do this so that we can help improve the systems so that they can't be taken down in the future and a cyber Pearl Harbor won't affect the U.S. infrastructures.


But could you if you wanted to?

I won't answer that question. ...
posted by stazen at 2:52 PM on August 14, 2003


Yea, that would be fuckin' funny. Idiot.

The ineptitude of news achors whilst they try to cover live events sometimes can bring about hilarity, you know. That's what I meant to point out, anyway.
posted by tapeguy at 2:54 PM on August 14, 2003


At home in mid-town Manhattan ... no power in my building, but the land lines still work (good thing too, as all 7 million people in NYC are now simultaneously trying to use their cell phones). But a neighbor just knocked on my door saying the building is having a spontaneous "Blackout 2003" party on the roof. God I love New York.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:55 PM on August 14, 2003


Why do you all hate power outages so much? That's unpatriotic!
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:55 PM on August 14, 2003


ok, my last comment, in this thread at least: i never realized how much bloomberg looks like mr roper.
posted by sugarfish at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2003


Hey Skallas, the fighter jets are actually for the upcoming airshow.

/just wanted to jump on the bandwagon
posted by dhoyt at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2003


Mutha do ya think they'll drop the bum?
posted by Witty at 2:59 PM on August 14, 2003


I wish the power would go out in San Diego, too.. then I could go home from work.
posted by afx114 at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2003


Ach! It's never terrorists in Chicago! We're not important enough, apparently. C'mon, terrorists! Where's the love?
posted by jason at 3:07 PM on August 14, 2003


Wayne, NJ: Holy carrier pigeon---I've never heard my UPS SCREAM like a wounded soprano before! Uh. Must have been that surge the poor critter's supposed to be protecting me from, because the only thing I've ever heard from it before is a really irritating tenor-with-a-stutter. At the same time, NPR went bye-bye and so did the overhead light. The light came back on, the radio didn't. I thought the surge had fried our age-old speakers but I cranked the sound up and found they were still up ever so faintly. Somebody (bless the child) had the presence of mind and the fast reflexes to drop our local node out of the grid. I've powered down everything in the house I safely can: the less strain on the system when they try to bring it back up, the better, say I. [Forgive me if I post without proofing.]
posted by realjanetkagan at 3:09 PM on August 14, 2003


It is all crazy with the jets today. I hate that damn watershow.
posted by thirteen at 3:09 PM on August 14, 2003


Someone set us down the power!
What you say?!

All your power are belong to us!
posted by tomcosgrave at 3:11 PM on August 14, 2003


4:49 PM

Now that is a testament to the simultaneity of the American media system. Or did Machaus, Steve_at_Linnwood, waxpancake and donkeyschlong all just happen to be listening to the same station?
posted by ook at 3:13 PM on August 14, 2003


We didn't have this sort of huge blackout when Clinton in office. Recall Bush and get Terminator in!
posted by Postroad at 3:22 PM on August 14, 2003


The worst thing for me is that MSN Messenger appears to have stopped working...
posted by wibbler at 3:26 PM on August 14, 2003


I welcome our new Amish overlords

There is no Cabal Cable
posted by fullerine at 3:26 PM on August 14, 2003


GOT SOLAR?

GOT WIND?
posted by thedailygrowl at 3:29 PM on August 14, 2003


"I wish the power would go out in San Diego, too.. then I could go home from work." --- afx114

Be careful what you wish for. I just got a collect call from my guy, who was on a client site in Manhattan today, saying he'd walked down from the 37th floor and had walked across town to Port Authority and that he would be---very slowly---making his way up the all-too-many-flights-of-stairs to his car. If that doesn't do it for you, think of all those people still stuck in elevators and subway trains.

waxpancake: Many thanks for the links that let me know what was actually happening!
posted by realjanetkagan at 3:29 PM on August 14, 2003


Here's a real-time chart from the New York Independent System Operator showing the current supply and demand of electricity in New York.

Nice link, waxpancake.

Via Boing Boing, an page of phonecam images from a couple people in blackoutland (mixed with some TV frame grabs.)

Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, the NYC DOT webcams appear to be out of order.
posted by Inkslinger at 3:31 PM on August 14, 2003


"I wish the power would go out in San Diego, too.. then I could go home from work." --- afx114

It'd be worse here in Southern California. A lot of people live 40 miles from home. With the traffic system down, including rail, and no place to go, you won't be working, but you won't be going home either.

Not to mention we don't have rooftop Blackout 2003 parties.

The history of this area tends to suite a five-finger discount sort of rave.
posted by linux at 3:33 PM on August 14, 2003


More from CNN:

"We understand that, from Con Ed, that we had a power surge and a dip and a failure that originated in Ontario," McCarton said.

I'd so laugh if it ended up being a power relay.

38 years later, and they still haven't sorted this out.
posted by linux at 3:37 PM on August 14, 2003


fixed link
posted by linux at 3:38 PM on August 14, 2003


Oh those heroic New Yorkers, let us praise them.
posted by Hildago at 3:41 PM on August 14, 2003


One TV reporter just talked to a bodega owner who said right now his ice is 99 cents, but by nightfall it will be $6.
posted by GaelFC at 3:42 PM on August 14, 2003


Most unfortunately, this is likely to set back the crucial grass roots efforts to shut down Indian Point (the nuclear power plant 22 miles North of Manhattan.)
posted by limitedpie at 3:45 PM on August 14, 2003


I thought our dip and failure originated in Texas.
posted by swerve at 3:46 PM on August 14, 2003


Serious question:

Could this be a Pinch?

(see Ocean's Eleven)
posted by feelinglistless at 3:48 PM on August 14, 2003


Contrary to Fox News Cincinnati and Dayton still have power.
posted by Mick at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2003


Whew, I"m so glad the power is still on in Dayton, cuz once Dayton goes out, it's all over.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:00 PM on August 14, 2003


Most unfortunately, this is likely to set back the crucial grass roots efforts to shut down Indian Point (the nuclear power plant 22 miles North of Manhattan.)

Although I don't necessarily think all nuclear power plants are evil, it was interesting to learn from the news today that nuclear power plants require outside electricity to run and rely on fuel-burning plants, which is why the nuclear plants in the area were shut down.
posted by Espoo2 at 4:03 PM on August 14, 2003


On the ABC Nightly News at 5:30 pm cst tonight, the first call that Ted Koppel (Peter Jennings is on vacation) took was from a guy who said that everyone affected by the power outage should visit thankyoufortakingmycall.com which, it tuns out, is a web site about pranking news media outlets. The site is small and running very slowly, cuz they just got a plug on a network in primetime, but there are some pretty funny examples.
posted by wsg at 4:06 PM on August 14, 2003


WYNC-FM is back up, sorta. "...broadcasting via telephone..." Says roughly that there are long lines for a public transportation but that "...the bars are packed." Gee, I can't imagine why ;) ?
Update from my guy: he just made it into NJ but he'll be a bit while he drops off the car-load of people he picked up that were going approximately his way.
Jez, they're saying the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels are now shut down! I can't tell you how happy I am he and his hitchhikers made it out before that happened!
posted by realjanetkagan at 4:07 PM on August 14, 2003


I don't suppose anyone knows whether the triboro or throgs neck or whitestone bridges are open. I'm stuck in CT trying to get home & they're not mentioning anything about those bridges on the fucking radio.
posted by fluffy1984 at 4:20 PM on August 14, 2003


I can confirm that being stuck in traffic in a big city when all the traffic lights go out is not much fun. At first it was okay, but then everyone in the city simultaneously decided to drive home from work early.

Some guy on TV says it was a lightning strike on a niagara falls power plant. Power is being restored in various areas already, should be up almost everywhere in a few hours. So, no big deal really, for 99.9% of us. They keep repeating that no terrorists were involved. But wait.. that's exactly one of the things they might say if the terrorists really did it! We're doomed!
posted by sfenders at 4:44 PM on August 14, 2003


Everyone (news-site wise) keeps saying "...as far west as Michigan"... is this true? Can't get anyone on the phone over there.
posted by marzenie99 at 5:13 PM on August 14, 2003


Self link to some photos and comments from here in New York City. Now waiting for compelte darkness so I can go looting. I need a new teevee.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:33 PM on August 14, 2003


Boing Boing is among the first to report...

Given that the power outage is described as massive, it's not exactly the scoop of the century. So why the superfluous plug?
posted by troybob at 5:39 PM on August 14, 2003


nobody panic, texas still has juice!

Heh, perhaps the only thing New Yorkers and Texans have in common is an over-exaggerated sense of self-importance.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:53 PM on August 14, 2003


Reuters says it was indeed a lightning strike. Time to add Thor to the terrorist list.
posted by homunculus at 5:57 PM on August 14, 2003


Bush just referred to the situation as a "rolling blackout". I thought rolling blackouts were planned, like the one's we had in California a few years ago. Am I wrong?
posted by whatever at 5:59 PM on August 14, 2003


Well, the president is on every channel (on tape; my guess is they couldn't shake a transponder loose to go live), and he's demoted this it a "rolling" blackout.

So, why is it, again, that I'm supposed to believe him when he says it's not terrorists?

"Massive national problem" indeed...
posted by baylink at 6:02 PM on August 14, 2003


"The term of art we'll learn from this is 'cascade'."

Unless our name is George.

Curious George? Maybe not...
posted by baylink at 6:04 PM on August 14, 2003


So, why is it, again, that I'm supposed to believe him when he says it's not terrorists?

Of course it's terrorists. The lightning bolt is a smoking gun which points to Thor. Thor is worshiped by the Asatru, most of whom live in Iceland. Clearly we must invade Iceland.
posted by homunculus at 6:05 PM on August 14, 2003


It's now 8:20 CDT, meaning this thing is some 5 hours old. At what point exactly are all of the cable newsies legally required to take down their "BREAKING NEWS" banners?
posted by mathis23 at 6:21 PM on August 14, 2003


The whole province of Quebec is unaffected. I'm amazed that I can dial in via my ISP, which is based in Ottawa. CBC Radio reports that the power is gone in almost all of Ontario, as far north as Timmins. They seem to be restoring power here and there in spots.

Just heard: Civilians taking it upon themselves to direct traffic untill the cops politely told them to cut it out. Neat.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:25 PM on August 14, 2003


Next Wednesday, Mathis.
posted by baylink at 6:25 PM on August 14, 2003


"The lightning bolt is a smoking gun which points to Thor. Thor is worshiped by the Asatru, most of whom live in Iceland. Clearly we must invade Iceland."

That's good, homunculus, but using Dubya logic we'd invade Chile, not Iceland.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:31 PM on August 14, 2003


linux: "...here in Southern California [a] lot of people live 40 miles from home."

You Californians are crazy!

Luckily Maine doesn't trust the other 49, and we have our own grid. My broadband went out for an hour or so though. Damn Time-Warner, they just wanted in on the fun I think.
posted by rusty at 6:59 PM on August 14, 2003


Althought the power has been restored in downtown Toronto [21:45], earlier on though, it wasn't so bad crossing major intersections by car without stop lights, cars taking their turns.

There were some SUV's that didn't wait their turn, but overall, not as bad as I would have imagined.

What did get me thinking was if the power wasn't restored till say a week, would I have to take a dip in Lake Ontario with a bar of soap and towel? *shudders*

I vote for getting off the grid and not holding on to mommy america's skirt.

Time to grow up and be a tad more self reliant.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:29 PM on August 14, 2003


*sniff* a moment of silence for all the lost uptimes...
posted by shadow45 at 8:38 PM on August 14, 2003


It seemed to only take about 20 minutes for our fearless leaders to conclude that "this is not a terrorist attack." Obviously, if they don't know what it was, then they don't really know what it wasn't, and that message was just to make people not panic. But the possibility that nobody seems to even be speculating about is whether this was the result of a hacker attack. That such a vulnerability exists has been know for quite some time. It wouldn't suprise me if a rec room full of pimply high school geeks set these wheels in motion.
posted by spilon at 9:28 PM on August 14, 2003


Yeesh... just to add my 2cents...
I JUST got home to North Jersey from my job in Midtown NYC.
What a long day... I happen to work for the largest Hospital conglomerate in the city, and we got to findout exactl how long our generators will last... turns out - not quite long enough.... scrambling around trying to find desiel fuel to refuel them is not a fun thing to do.... *sigh*
I'd LOVE to know WTF happened... I mean, cmon what could cause all these states and cities to go down simoltanioulsy?
posted by niteHawk at 9:56 PM on August 14, 2003


It wouldn't suprise me if a rec room full of pimply high school geeks set these wheels in motion.

With what? Their own lightning machine? Now that's straight out of Real Genius and I like it!
posted by damclean2 at 10:06 PM on August 14, 2003


Whew, I"m so glad the power is still on in Dayton, cuz once Dayton goes out, it's all over.

You don't realize how right you are. If the power went out in (whats left of) downtown Dayton the rioting and looting would make the fall of Baghdad look like a Grateful Dead show. I shudder at the thought.

"Dayton is scary after dark."
-Mr Carlson, WKRP in Cincinnati
I was raised in Dayton, trust me
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:03 PM on August 14, 2003


Finally got power back on my street in Windsor about an hour ago. Though one street over, they've had power since at least 10pm ET. Bah

"The whole province of Quebec is unaffected. I'm amazed that I can dial in via my ISP, which is based in Ottawa. CBC Radio reports that the power is gone in almost all of Ontario, as far north as Timmins. They seem to be restoring power here and there in spots."

I was able to dial in and got online too on a backup account I have but with only 2 hours of laptop power left and the news reporting that power MAY be down as long as Monday, I was going to conserve it. Heh.

It really wasn't that bad around here. I didn't have work so I was home anyway, and when everyone else did get home in the neighbourhood, everyone was outside all at once. I saw some neighbours outside for the first time all summer. Hah. Most were having barbeques and bonfires and swimming and socializing and even partying. That is, other than those that went off to stock up on batteries and whatnot or go wait in line at whatever gas station it was that was still open.
posted by yupislyr at 12:34 AM on August 15, 2003


Good morning all from New Jersey, it's 3:45 AM EST and power just came back on here. Jesus, this is like snow days when the plow came through an hour before school started.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:44 AM on August 15, 2003


It's OK. Someone just thought Matrix Reloaded was a documentary.
posted by GrahamVM at 2:17 AM on August 15, 2003


Finally. Astoria power is back. And I thought it was bad when mefi was down.
posted by muckster at 2:28 AM on August 15, 2003


Yeah, just got power back. I'm in Astoria, too. What a night. I walked from hudson Street in Soho up to 59th across the bridge and up to Ditmars.

One for the record books.
posted by jonmc at 2:41 AM on August 15, 2003


While terrorism was swiftly ruled out by President Bush and other officials, there was scant indication of what had caused the outage, which began on the cusp of Thursday's afternoon rush hour in Eastern cities. - source

We have NO idea what caused it, but you can be SURE it wasn't them damn terrorists. I hear one more government type telling us it wasn't terrorists, and I am going to start thinking it WAS. :D
posted by Orb at 2:47 AM on August 15, 2003


I JUST got home to North Jersey from my job in Midtown NYC.

How the hell did you get home? Were there still ferries running?
posted by adampsyche at 4:10 AM on August 15, 2003


But a neighbor just knocked on my door saying the building is having a spontaneous "Blackout 2003" party on the roof. God I love New York.

Indeed. So does his cousin who ripped off everyone's stuff whilst they were gawking on the roof ;-)
posted by i_cola at 4:52 AM on August 15, 2003


Damn, I somehow missed this thread and posted my thrilling tale in the Blackout History Project one. Hey jonmc, too bad we didn't run into each other on the bridge!
(*whistles "Feelin' Groovy"*)
posted by languagehat at 5:07 AM on August 15, 2003


The power's still out (almost entirely) in Ottawa, but everything's fine in Gatineau, where I work, thanks to the benificence and good fortune of the leftwing Quebec government. Last night was beautiful and apocalyptic. My story's in my blog.
posted by Marquis at 7:00 AM on August 15, 2003


You know the story about there being a spike in births nine months after a blackout? It's not going to happen in Cleveland. The reason: No water. Imagine not being able to wash. Eeeeew.
posted by Faze at 7:06 AM on August 15, 2003


Wouldn't they do it anyway?
posted by GrahamVM at 7:14 AM on August 15, 2003


American runs out of toilet paper - News At Ten Special Report.
posted by Blue Stone at 7:16 AM on August 15, 2003


So when it happened I was in Rockaway Beach, Queens -- which for those of you who don't know NYC, is about the furthest away from midtown Manhattan you can be and still be in New York City. On a good day it's still more than an hour's subway ride from there to my home in Long Island City, Queens (across the East River from the U.N.). So I knew I'd have an adventure getting home without the subway. But some great things happened along the way:

* At the time I was eating in a restaurant in Rockaway, and since I couldn't pay for it with my credit card or go to an ATM, I used the last of my cash in my wallet -- $10 -- to pay for my meal. When a waitress found out I had to get home with only my Metrocard (which works on buses as well as the subway) but no cash, she gave me $10 of her own just in case I needed it, and her address so I could repay her "whenever."

* With my Metrocard I began taking any combination of random buses that would get me away from Rockaway, and ended up riding through various Brooklyn neighborhoods that I'd never seen from above ground. People were just hanging out on the sidewalks, having barbecues and playing cards, while the people driving cars became amazingly polite and turned every intersection with useless streetlights into a four-way stop. Never heard a damn horn, which is pretty amazing.

* I ended up in South Williamsburg, on a street where I knew I could catch one final bus, the B61, back to my own neighborhood. But I stood there for more than an hour, and the few buses that passed were packed sardine-like and wouldn't stop. Finally a guy in a big car slowed down and offered me and the six people I was standing with a ride to Greenpoint, which was much closer to where we needed to be. So we all piled in his car as he talked about the blackouts of '77 and '68. I gave him the $10 bill the waitress had given me, and some of the other strangers gave me dollar bills.

* From where he dropped us off, it was only about a 20-minute walk back to my place. By this point the sun had set and it was completely dark, but people had put candles on the sidewalks to help pedestrians navigate. One guy passed us carrying a torch.

* As I approached home, I was pretty dehydrated from my three-hour journey; all the 24-hour delis and various places where one could get water were shut down. And I'd called my husband and learned that our building didn't have running water, as the pump was electric. On my otherwise empty street, though, there was a Vitamin Water truck, with a guy behind the wheel who was starting it up. I asked if he was selling any Vitamin Water -- I had $4 in my pocket -- and he said, no, he'd just been giving away promotional bottles, but he was out of the promo packs. When I mentioned that my building had no water, he looked alarmed and said, "Well, we might have a few bottles in back." He fished out five for me and my neighbors, and refused to take any cash.

* And I made it home. I like New York.
posted by lisa g at 7:41 AM on August 15, 2003 [2 favorites]


I spent the night on a couch in midtown. When the lights went out, we walked down 29 flights of stairs to the street; then walked over to a bar on Ninth Ave. Not much drama.

Does anyone know whether the state courts in Manhattan are open? I am supposed to file a brief in the First Department today, but my office is basically closed and no one is answering the phone at the appellate division. I realize this means I'm probably in the clear, but it would be nice to get some confirmation.
posted by subgenius at 7:45 AM on August 15, 2003


Power just came back on in Ann Arbor. Of course, the first thing I do is come here and get my fix.
posted by gyc at 8:06 AM on August 15, 2003


Here in Kingston, Ontario, my power came back on at 2:15AM, apparently the *last* block in the entire town. Everyone else had power hours earlier. Didn't matter though, had about 30 people having fun in my yard until the police came and made us all shut up. boo-urns!

I like how everyone's first reaction when the power goes out is "must drink booze!"
posted by krunk at 8:18 AM on August 15, 2003


Great post, lisa g.
posted by timeistight at 8:57 AM on August 15, 2003


I vote for getting off the grid and not holding on to mommy america's skirt.

Time to grow up and be a tad more self reliant.

We're wildly self reliant and ship way more power to the US then they ship to Canada.

I'm a little surprise no one has gloated about their pool of power due to generator goodness. The Montreal ice storm was a real wake up call for me.
posted by Mitheral at 9:11 AM on August 15, 2003


Get 'em while they're relevant: I survived the NEW YORK BLACKOUT of 2003! (in Detroit) (or Cleveland).
posted by aaronetc at 9:17 AM on August 15, 2003


Yeah, that was awesome lisag. Very well done.

And people say we're crazy to live in California.... PAH!
posted by aacheson at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2003


I remember in the San Francisco blackout after the Loma Prieta quake in '89 the bars started giving away the beer before it got too warm... Any of that going on in NYC? (I'm away for the summer.)

*sniff* a moment of silence for all the lost uptimes... — shadow45

Not my servers! My partner is camped out in one of the few places with lights and air conditioning: the Verio colocation facility in the old Port Authority building on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea. They've got enough fuel in the basement tanks to run the backup generators for two weeks...

[On preview] I'm a little surprise no one has gloated about their pool of power due to generator goodness — Mitheral

Gloat, gloat.
posted by nicwolff at 9:27 AM on August 15, 2003


So there was little to no crime in NYC and massive looting in CANADA?

This was definitely the Bizarro World Blackout...
posted by GaelFC at 9:28 AM on August 15, 2003


My little story:

Since most gas pumps are run electronically, it means that getting gas in London, ON was pretty much impossible for most of the late afternoon and early evening.
However, around 9pm or so, some parts of the city were back up and running. One local gas station called into the radio station to announce that they were back online and that any cars nearby that were low on gas (because of traffic problems, or want to fill up for the weekend trip) could come by. The DJ thanked the caller and relayed the information.

About 30 minutes later, the DJ gets a phone call from a motorist. It seems that the gas station in question IS open, but has jacked their prices up from 75c/litre (which was high to begin with) up to 95c/litre.
(American equivalent, in $US: from $2.05/gallon to $2.59/gallon)

This morning, the same radio station was relaying the information that 90% of the gas stations were back in business, and that he just wanted to remind everyone that last night gas station "X" was the one that gouged the consumer.

So any profit this guy might have made from his 2 or 3 hour head start is probably going to go up in smoke when word gets around that he tried to gouge everyone.

One last thing:

My favourite images from TV last night was watching some 20-something guy directing traffic in downtown Toronto (and doing a pretty good job by having advanced left turns and pedestrian crossing-only times). When the camera crew ran out onto the road to interview him in the middle of his "job", they asked if he had ever done this before.
"No, but I've always wanted to give it a try."
posted by grum@work at 9:37 AM on August 15, 2003


Belleville Michigan (about 20 minutes from Detroit) just came up about 20 minutes ago. The city itself is apparently looking at Sunday or Monday by the last report.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:53 AM on August 15, 2003


Belleville.. whoa, my in-laws live there. Thanks for the info, PinkStainlessTail.
posted by marzenie99 at 10:25 AM on August 15, 2003


So there was little to no crime in NYC and massive looting in CANADA?

Well CNN is saying NYC had less crime than usual, same with Toronto, the only reports of looting I've heard have been out of Ottawa (!?). Strange indeed.
posted by bobo123 at 10:31 AM on August 15, 2003


Thank you for your post, lisag. It was a heartwarmer =)

(yes, I just made an actual smiley face emoticon, but her post was worth it)
posted by mathis23 at 10:36 AM on August 15, 2003


To retaliate against that hated Thor, we should rename his day, Thursday, to Freedomday.
posted by beth at 11:25 AM on August 15, 2003


Very nice, beth!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:27 AM on August 15, 2003


I still have no power (Yorkville area of Toronto) - at an internet cafe whose power *just* happened to be coming up as I walked by.

(hot as blazes here!)
posted by avocet at 12:05 PM on August 15, 2003


The West Village is back online.

(I know how worried you all were.)
posted by divrsional at 12:06 PM on August 15, 2003


Several weeks ago, I visited the Lake Erie islands, and on the boat trip back to mainland noticed the huge silhouette of a nuclear powerplant on the horizon. Once home I searched to see which plant was located there and realized it was the Davis-Besse reactor in Oak Harbor, OH. Davis-Besse was shut down in the spring of 2002 due to a crack that developed in the reactor vessel. It has yet to come back online, but was last re-evaluated as of Wednesday. I wondered how the power system dealt with the loss of capacity caused by the plant's hiatus. Since the portion of the power grid that follows Lake Erie now appears to be where the failure started, my guess is that there will be great pressure to bring Davis-Besse back online. However, I know nothing about power generation and transmission, and this could have nothing to do with the blackout whatsoever.
posted by samuelad at 12:07 PM on August 15, 2003


There was looting at 3 places in Brooklyn last night, but the cops made arrests. We (Flushing) were down for 14 hours. Our cable is still not back, but RoadRunner is.
posted by riffola at 12:20 PM on August 15, 2003


Ugh. Power just came on. Almost 24 hours without, to the minute. I'm in midtown Toronto.

The most amazing thing though... last night, people were outside... doing things: walking dogs, talking on their front steps, playing frisbee/ball. I felt like I was back in the mid 1970s--the last time I can remember being part of a real live community. Yes, powerless for a day was a pain in the ass but it was also certainly one of the more interesting things to happen to the city in my lifetime.
posted by dobbs at 1:27 PM on August 15, 2003


Someone mentioned the self-made human stoplights in Toronto, above. I think this was one of the most interesting stories of the whole thing, partially, I guess, because I was one of them.

I don't want to sound like I'm bragging... I was really just a follower - I had been walking from work on 14th St. and kept passing these young guys (one was a bike messenger, another a summer intern at Deutsche Bank) in their early twenties - at best - directing traffic at intersections.

After walking about ten blocks and shaking a few of their hands, I remembered thinking post-9/11 how I wished I had gone down to ground zero and helped. So I decided to help and with two other guys, manned the intersection at 25th and 6th right after the intersection f (big street) 23rd and right before Herald Square (huge intersection where Macy's is).

It was surprisingly hard (we really needed three people, one to guide the westbound traffic, another to stop the cars and another to stop the pedestrians at the crosswalk).

For the first hour of the 2.5 I was out there, I don't think I saw one police car go by, although we cleared lanes for a few ambulances and fire trucks, and a lot of official black sedans with sirens. Even later, once police cars started speeding on through, mostly because rush hour wsa ending, no one in any of those cars seemed to think much of us directing traffic.

In general, the cars were easy, actually, and very friendly. Virtually no honking and screaming (less than on a normal day), and lots of thumbs-ups and head nods and thank-yous. The pedestrians were not as easy. New Yorkers don't give much of a shit about actual traffic lights, let alone some jackass in a t-shirt.

Still, it was some of the most rewarding work I think I've ever done (not mentally or financially - although the guys at the bodega offered us each a couple free waters). It just felt good to pitch in and I honestly think we made some small difference (and in concert with all the other people doing it, a pretty substantial (but still small overall) difference).

Some other anecdotes:

* I intentionally walked back home through Times Square - it was packed and not quite as surreal as I'd thought. There were news crews everywhere. It was strange to see everything darker than normal, and I kept reminding myself that this was something that may never happen again ... but it wasn't as much of a shock as I'd thought. Maybe it was because of the news crews that were generating light for their on-camera people.

* The people in my (25-story) building ended up having a huge BBQ party on our shared patio, right up until the building's staff forced us to leave because the patio closes at 10. It turned into a building-wide "pub" crawl, with people going from apartment to apartment seeking booze and fun.

* Stores mostly sold out - or are selling out - of flashlights by yesterday. One guy on the street tried to sell me a flashlight for $3, I offered him $2 but he couldn't make change and refused my one single with $.65 in change. Another guy, mid-forties with dredlocks, sold me a bigger one, complete with DINACELL crap batteries and two spare bulbs for $5: he tested it and promised he'd used his throught last night.

* Street vendors were making a killing equipping women with comfortable shoes and bags for the walk home, and selling battles and junk neon/glow-in-the-dark jewelry and crystals that probably never sell one tenth as much: I bet this will be their best weekend in history.

* I saw a young white couple arguing with an older Asian man who was trying to close his store for the day. They insisted he sell them a flashlight and he kept pointing at the sign and explaining that his store does dry-cleaning.

* Water was mostly reasonably priced. Maybe a quarter or fifty cents extra. I haggled with one guy who tried to sell me a small water for $1.50, a liter for $2.50. He agreed to sell me a liter for $2 and then corrected me when I started to walk away with a smaller bottle.

* Cell phones, as noted before, were useless (although they seemed to work for a few people here and there). I felt like a hero when I dragged a corded phone out of one of my huge boxes of packratted old electronics. Our phone service worked all through the night, and then died mid-morning, about two or three hours before the power came back on.

* I saw stars from the window of my building. I think it was the first time that I've ever seen stars in NYC.
posted by Sinner at 1:30 PM on August 15, 2003


Spelling errors from above, corrected:

...Someone mentioned the self-made human stoplights in Toronto above. I think this was one of the most interesting stories of the whole thing, partially, I guess, because I was one of them...

... It was surprisingly hard (we really needed three people, one to guide the westbound traffic, another to stop the NORTHBOUND cars and another to stop the pedestrians at the crosswalk)...

...* Stores mostly sold out - or are now selling out - of flashlights by EARLY THIS MORNING. One guy on the street tried to sell me a flashlight for $3, I offered him $2 but he couldn't make change and refused my one single with $.65 in change. Another guy, mid-forties with dredlocks, sold me a bigger one, complete with DINACELL crap batteries and two spare bulbs for $5: he tested it and promised he'd used his through ast night...

... * Street vendors were making a killing equipping women with comfortable shoes and bags for the walk home, and selling BATTERIES and junk neon/glow-in-the-dark jewelry/crystals that probably never sell one tenth as much: I bet this will be their best weekend in history....
posted by Sinner at 1:37 PM on August 15, 2003


my power just came on after just over 24 hours with none whatsoever. gah. i miss my a/c so badly, i want to marry it and bear it's chilly children.

the best thing - was seeing the stars so clearly, and mars sparkling in the sky like a cosmic ruby.

the worst thing - having to lug several gallons of water up 23 flights of stairs to mother in law who never listened to us when we begged her not to move into a high rise.

the funniest & scariest thing: brave male pedestrian helpfully directing traffic turns out to be a resident of a nearby home for the mentally challenged happily directing 3 flows of traffic into eachother...! luckily no one was hurt, yipes.
posted by t r a c y at 2:01 PM on August 15, 2003




"They insisted he sell them a flashlight and he kept pointing at the sign and explaining that his store does dry-cleaning."

That has to be a joke.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:28 PM on August 15, 2003


My building (on 10th ave in the 30s in manhattan) got power back exactly 24 hours after it went out, at 4pm-ish...unfortunately still no dsl, as there's a verizon problem (i'm on dialup now)..

very eerie last night...incredibly dark, even with candles/flashlights...you never realize how much ambient light you're used to at night, just from streetlights and other buildings...and very hot...and reading by candlelight at night is awful--i dont know how they did it way back when...my water stayed on (i'm in a little building) so that helped with the heat...

I've now survived my third blackout, although i was an infant for the 65 one, and 12 for the 77 one (which i remember as really fun, and an adventure, and not at all hot like this one)
: >
(oh, and my freezer really needed defrosting anyway)

I think some people have some explaining to do--especially con edison and the people in charge of the northeastern grid...

(and what tracy said abt marrying the air conditioner!)
posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on August 15, 2003


Thanks for the link, homunculus.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:40 PM on August 15, 2003


Oh, and Rush is already blaming environmentalist liberals. Just to be Fair and Balanced.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:47 PM on August 15, 2003


dunno if this has already been posted, but wow. satellite images of light coverage over the northeastern US before and after the blackout.

via fark
posted by avocet at 5:31 PM on August 15, 2003


"They insisted he sell them a flashlight and he kept pointing at the sign and explaining that his store does dry-cleaning."

That has to be a joke.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:28 PM PST on August 15


You would think so, but no. Somewhere on 8th Ave. in Chelsea, around 18th St. East side of the street. I walked by, saw the guy heard the conversation, slowed down a bit to hear it, and kept going. Laughing.
posted by Sinner at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2003




a toronto story:

i spent the whole night alone. after i left work (with batteries in hand) i came home, attempted hi-speed photography via candlelight for a few hours, got bored, went outside by myself - the night skies were stunning, the police presence along bloor between avenue and bay (bling bling) was calming, but i was still too anxious by myself to stay out for long. i sat at bay and bloor, a very familiar intersection for me, with a fast-dripping candle in hand, faintly smiling at people walking by, hoping to see a familiar face in my neighbourhood. i made the mistake of almost draining what was left of my cell phone battery trying to get in touch with anyone that could spend the night with me. telus seemed to be the only canadian cell provider whose networks didn't seem to go down. i was frantically trying to get in touch with my boyfriend, but to no avail.

the scariest thing for me (panic-attack-inducing) was waking to the sound of my apartment doorknob being jiggled and pulled at 3 am. my cell phone didn't have enough juice for one more call. i could have made it out the back door of my apartment and escaped had i wanted to, but by the time i fumbled around for my clothes the noises had stopped. it was a sleepless night for me, so i decided that at the crack of dawn i would find an open coffee shop. at 5:45 i left my house, finding my neighbour's keys in the front door, adding to my suspicions that someone did indeed attempt to break into my apartment. i live in a safe and relatively close-knit neighbourhood, too.

six (relatively jittery) hours later, i spoke to my upstairs neighbours about the incident, apparently they were 'absolutely hammered' and despite the flashlight they were using, tried to enter their apartment through the WRONG DOOR, which led to a few minutes of fumbling with my lock until they realized they were at the wrong apartment. left their keys in the front door in the process.

so i woke up and went to work, which surprisingly had power, even though i wasn't due there for over four hours. i had a bit of A/C, a newspaper, a place to charge my phone, and best of all, johnny cash :)


and then i found out this morning there was a huge street party one block over. d'oh!

love thy neighbour, because then you'll get invited to such events.


i hope everyone is making the best of this difficult situation, and the rolling blackouts aren't hurting anyone tonight. i hope you're with people you're comfortable with, and the wine flows freely, and we all come out with some good stories.....

cheers, sorry about the long post. (24.5 hours without power)
posted by avocet at 5:51 PM on August 15, 2003


we just got power back in lower manhattan around 9 est. The whole neighborhood cheered...
posted by mdn at 7:10 PM on August 15, 2003


Just to add my experience...

I ended up walking back to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn from midtown Manhattan, about 5 miles, and got back around 6:30. Everyone was upbeat, and there weren't any problems that I noticed, aside from my iPod crapping out. Civilians were directing traffic where cops weren't, and despite the traffic, things were moving pretty well. I pity the people that waited for a bus, though, considering they were moving much slower than the people walking and they were extremely packed, as noted above. The coolest part was that the lower deck of the Manhattan Bridge was closed to cars, so it was completely filled with pedestrians; ahead of me could see the bridge towers and an endless sea of heads. Several times, I saw many people helping anyone having trouble with walking.

After I returned home, I went over to my favorite bar and, thanks to the miracles of iced kegs, had a cold draft Sierra Nevada, and swapped stories with others by candlelight. I met up with my next door neighbor and we went down to the waterfront to see the skyline, which was quite impressive, though not as dark I as expected (the Statue of Liberty was lit... does she get her power from Jersey, or an independent source?).

Walking back to my apartment, I noticed that everyone was out having parties, whether on stoops, in bars, or in homes, and everyone was happy and convivial. I ended up sitting outside my building chatting with my neighbors (who I rarely talk to otherwise) until about 1 am before finally going to sleep, and I woke up about 15 minutes before power and cell phones were restored in my neighborhood. Today seemed similarly convivial, as everyone I encountered seemed to be in a good mood.

Seeing as it brought out some of the best I've seen in New York, maybe we should do this more often.
posted by The Michael The at 7:43 PM on August 15, 2003


avocet! we probably just about bumped into each other then...I live in the same area [avenue rd, a block north of "dorkville"]! I had lights at 21:45! A friend living on queen and crawford [artspace building] said his power came on at 4 am. I joshed saying, well, you know, it's about my [posh] neighborhood, the lights came on sooner! Sorry you didn't get much sleep last night, neighbours trying to find their own appartment notwithstanding. Next time someone's shaking your doorknob, walk up to it quietly and start barking like crazy mad. IF it was some perp, they won't want any trouble from a big dog and try an easier mark.

All kidding aside, I missed a street party a block away? Damn. I thought it was cool how many people were lighting the sidewalks with candles! Waaaay cool.

Funniest site was a van, parked with it's front wheels on the curb, lights shining into a vegetable type variety store just in front of the vegetables and fruit stand on the street.

I'd suggest the city should shut the power down once a week.
posted by alicesshoe at 10:12 PM on August 15, 2003


alicesshoe - the party was on admiral (between st. george & avenue) - they literally had wine and cheese. damn rich folk!

after hearing all of my friends' stories of GET RID OF ALL MY FOOD! barbeques, and photo-taking adventures, i kinda wish i had another chance to make it better.

related is this thread on the infiltration.org boards, of one guy's adventures in ottawa/gatineau during the blackout, with some absolutely STUNNING photography. real interesting.
posted by avocet at 3:48 PM on August 16, 2003


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