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laureth's avatar

How were you affected by the MW/NE Blackout of Aug. 14, 2003?

Asked by laureth (27184points) March 13th, 2009

The Northeast-Midwest blackout on Aug. 14, 2003, left over 28 million people in Michigan, New York, Ohio and other states without electricity for up to four days.

Where were you and what were you doing when the lights went out? (Obviously, some of you weren’t affected.)

I was at work, managing the cashiers at the grocery store where I worked. After we finally herded the customers out of the store (who were very upset that we couldn’t grind meat or slice cheese for them any more), I counted down their tills and the safe by penlight. The store manager handed out gallons of water to employees and regular customers for free, out of kindness. later on, we had a BBQ behind the store with our Demo grill, written-off charcoal, and all the meat in the cooler that didn’t fit in the ice truck and the leftover deli salads, so the employees who stuck it out could have dinner. Another employee pulled up his car and put the radio up, so it was like a party.

What did you do? Were you stuck at work? How did you get through it?

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13 Answers

earthangel's avatar

in the dark ,sorry lol

adreamofautumn's avatar

Wow. I am currently writing a memoir for one of my classes about this exact situation! I was in Manhattan when the power went out, in a haagen dazs in Union Square to be exact. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (with the mass exodus out of the city) and ended up staying with a number of friends in our friend’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Her parents made us spaghetti by candlelight. We walked around Brooklyn, ate tons of free ice cream from bodega’s trying to get rid of it before it all melted and spent a good deal of time sitting on the Brooklyn Promenade looking out over a nearly black Manhattan. Over the course of 2 days we walked 20 something miles between the city and Brooklyn. One of the coolest experiences of my young life.

bananafish's avatar

Man alive, I was affected!

I live in Michigan….JUST on the border of where the blackout affected. I was in a craphole apartment, and it was about 90 degrees outside. If we tried to open the windows, clouds of cigarette smoke poured in from our chimney-like neighbors all out on the stoop.

And since we were in an apartment (with no balcony or porch…or lawn) grilling was not an option. All we could do was play cards and smell cigarette smoke.

We tried to head over to the next town’s grocery store where they DID have power. You should’ve seen the lines of cars clogging to roadways!

Miserable, miserable.

bananafish's avatar

5 months later I bought a house of my own. No coincidence.

Also not a coincidence? My house is in the area not affected by the outage. Sure, it’ll probably never happen in the same way again, but just in case I’ll be read! Awwww yeah!

scamp's avatar

I was in New Jersey, very hot and miserable, but compared to what the Katrina victims went through it was nothing.

fireside's avatar

I was in my office near Times Square when the power went out. We waited for a while listening to the radio and waiting to see if the power would come back on. I walked down the 28 flights of stairs and grabbed a bus with a friend of mine who was going to her sister’s house which was right near me.

It was oddly similar to that day two years earlier, except this time the exodus was on one of the last buses heading out towards Jersey before they closed the tunnel while the other day was an exodus on foot over the 59th street bridge into Queens. I remember seeing some woman wearing high heels buy the sandals off another woman’s feet as she was sitting on the stoop. The first woman switched shoes and kept on walking towards downtown.

I got over to Jersey and realized that my apartment had very few windows, so I grabbed a book and went out to the promenade looking out on Manhattan (the side opposite autumn, apparently) and found a great place to sit down and read while I watched for the lights to come back and wondering how my roommate was doing in getting off the island. She got back finally with some fun story about getting off the island in a boat.

rowenaz's avatar

I live in Connecticut. I was at my corporate job, when everything went dead, and someone was on the phone with a friend in the city, who said the power had gone off there, too. I asked to be dismissed, and went to get my daughter from daycare. The entire city where I live was a parking lot on all the main roads, and I remember being grateful that I could go against traffic to get to parents’ house. My brother was visiting from GA, and he taught us about steamed corn on the grill that night. Eventually I went home. We were back on the next day.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I saw it on the news as it occurred. I live in Wis

arnbev959's avatar

I enjoyed that night very much. That night all the neighbors were outside in the street talking. We had a barbecue that some of the neighbors came to. At night there were millions of stars out, more than I’ve ever seen in my hometown, which is right next to New York City with all its light pollution. My then-girlfriend and I slept in her backyard, and in the very early morning I rode my bike to the George Washington Bridge and took pictures of the black skyline.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I chose to walk from 18th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan to Brooklyn. When I was crossing over on the Brooklyn Bridge was the only time I felt comfortable enough to take off my 3” heels. Can you imagine the blisters? Oh, the pain. But I wouldn’t dare walk the streets of Manhattan barefoot, especially near the Bowery, at that time. Just my luck I had been reprimanded the day before for not dressing in a corporate style at the office I was working in. The bridge is wooden on the ped/bike lanes, so aside from the risk of splinters, it’s otherwise clean.

There were so many people on the walkway, the bridge swayed from side to side, and I had to comfort a lady next to me via her daughter. I can’t speak Spanish, and the poor old dear was terrified seeing the bridge moving, so I explained to the daughter to tell her mom that it was good that the bridge was swaying. It would “bend” and not collapse. The daughter got it and the look of relief that crossed the mom’s face… Our borough president was at the Brooklyn side, handing out bottled water to people.

I was home not long after, and my roommates and I ate our melting ice cream on the terrace of our flat listened to a little handcrank radio for news and watched the kids play football across the street in the park, the lights coming from their flashlights. I put my feet in a big bowl filled with melting ice. The diner next door gave away everything in the front dessert cooler. It was an especially neighborhoody night for an already neighborhoody place.

Darwin's avatar

What blackout? I live in southern Texas

However, I do remember the New York blackout (now called the “Northeast Blackout of 1965”) because I lived in Connecticut at the time and my dad worked in New York City. He got trapped in an elevator for three hours, and somehow eventually found a cabbie who lived in New Jersey but was willing (for an exorbitant price) to take as many business men as his cab could hold to their homes. He got home somewhere around 1 am.

In the meantime I had to turn in my homework the next day with candle drippings on it, and dinner was different than planned because my mom had been cooking it in the electric oven that came with the house rather than the gas stove that she toted from house to house for 50 years.

Fortunately, our house was built in 1906 and the oil-powered heating system (radiators) worked just fine because it was chilly that night.

An urban myth arose that the number of babies born nine months after the blackout was much higher than normal, which lets you know what a lot of people thought a lot of people did when the lights went out. However, realistically, most folks were so exhausted from coping that they just went to sleep.

hearkat's avatar

@Scamp: You were effected? The lights flickered at work, but my area in northern Ocean County (I worked close to home back then) was not effected.

Emdean1's avatar

I was at work in downtown Cleveland. They made us all sit there in the dark for about 2 hours then let everyone go home. A group of co-workers and I decided to go drinking. It was a nice day out and it was still early afternoon. So we went to Panini’s and drank on the patio. It was packed. My home wasn’t affected so when i got home i had lights :)

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