Submitted May 2, 2004, 11:52 PM
Where were you during the 2003 blackout in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada? (please include city and state)
Tell your story:
If you remember the blackouts of 1965 and/or 1977, how did your experience compare?
My wife and I were staying at a Midtown hotel, on the 37th floor on Thursday, the 14th. We had just taken a shower, were all dressed up, and just to head out of the room to attend a taping of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart when the lights went off. There was no emergency lighting in the hallways and no source of natural light, so it was as dark in the in the hallways as it would have been in a coal mine.
We went back to the room. The T.V. was off. We didn't have a battery operated radio. We looked out the window, which overlooks 34th Street, and we noticed the large crowds of people in front of Macy's. This was an odd thing for both of us, having being raised in Wyoming. The only time I had ever seen so many people in city streets before was when a Pony Express rider arrived into town. Anyhow, as I'm sure you all know, we saw traffic come to a stand still as cars and people crowded the city streets trying to make their way home.
We had tried to use our cell phone to find out what was going on, but couldn't get a line out. The hotel phone was out, couldn't even reach the front desk. It was so dark in the stairwells that we deemed it too dangerous to try to feel our way down the stairs. As much as we liked Jon Stewart, we didn't feel it would have been worth a broken limb or two. So we went back to the room, and tried to rest and take a nap. Of course, it was hot and humid, especially for someone from as a dry climate as Wyoming is. It wasn't much longer when we discovered the water in the water tank on the roof was completely gone. With no power to run the pump, well, as you know people in high rises had a more difficult time than a lot of others. So we took stock of our supplies. I think it was a cup of Polar Springs water and some crackers and frommage courtesy of JetBlue.
My wife and I never felt so isolated as we did on that night, 37 stories above 34th Street in Manhattan. Once we moved to the acceptance phase of not having any water or food for the night, we were a little giddy about spending such a historic night in NYC. We gazed out our tiny window and stared at the darkened Empire State Building that we had heard so much about as little kids 15 years and 3,000 miles earlier.
We awoke the next day at around 5:30 to the sound of the cell phone. My mother finally got through to me and told me the whole story that she knew of the Blackout. We spent the rest of the morning watching the awakening city and reading our guide books. At around 8:30, we ventured into the hallways, which were still dark, but this time we bumped into a traveler named John from D.C. He was trying to get downstairs to meet up with his wife, who slept in the lobby since the hotel didn't want to take the risk of injury if they had tried to guide her up the 37 flights of stairs. John had found somebody with a flashlight and was on his way out. He invited my wife and myself to go along with his caravan. We got our shoes on real quick and finally made our way down the stairs with 5 or 6 others. I have never made such a slow descent down stairs in my life, but even with the flashlight, it was very dark, most of the time losing sight of the person ahead of me. We all made it down without tripping or twisting our ankles and were relieved to finally be outside. Unshowered and smelly, but outside at last. God almighty, outside at last.
The rest of the day, Friday the 15th, was fairly uneventful, other than the large number of people walking everywhere with very little vehicle traffic. We found some convenience stores and bought our first meal since breakfast the day before. Normally, I don't like Skittles but on that morning they were the food of the gods. We then proceeded to walk. And walk. And walk. And walk. We made our way down 5th Avenue. Watched squirrels wrestle to the death in Madison Square park. Spotted some of the cast of "The Restuarant" sitting outside of Rocco's (We saw Lauren, but didn't see Rocco himself). We made our way to Stuyvesant Square and witnessed a picnic of dog owners from the nearby buildings. We walked through Chinatown, and into the Foley Square area where "Laws of Attraction" was filming that day.
By the time we reached Worth Street, power uptown was coming alive. We waited, and waited, and waited for a bus to take us back up town. We finally found a bus that still had some room on it. We got in and made our way to Central Park, riding nose to armpit. We took a few turns on the old carousel, bought some Ben and Jerry's comfort food from a vendor and made our way back to the hotel.
It was a very memorable experience for us. I still hesitate to tell the town elders back in Wyoming about this; don't want them to rethink about installing that new fangled East Coast invention they call electricity. |
Did not experience either blackouts. I did experience the Blackout of '87 in my hometown when a squirrel touched one too many power lines and burnt a transformer up. |
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