Junior tells NYC blackout experience

By Heather DiLalla
September 4, 2003


The usual activity on the streets of New York City quickly turned into absolute chaos after one of the biggest and most devastating power outages hit on Thursday, August 14, 2003 at approximately 4:11 pm

Southern Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all suffered power outages. Over 50 million people lost power in North America.

Jamie Lewis, a junior communications major spent the summer interning in New York City. That sizzling hot summer day was one she will never forget. She explained that the initial moment the lights went out was the most frightening.

“I honestly thought we were about to be bombed. I knew something was terribly wrong when the big television outside of Times Square turned from world news to a grey fuzzy screen,” Lewis said.

Lewis and her friends decided walking towards their apartment would be the safest precaution they could take. And so their journey began.

Traffic was bumper to bumper both on the streets with cars and on the sidewalk with pedestrians. People were volunteering their time and safety by directing traffic because of useless traffic lights.

Taxi Cabs were parked on the sides of streets with their doors open and their radio’s blaring the latest news. Lewis and her friends were able to catch word that the blackout was not a terroristic threat. No longer feeling threatened, the girls continued walking up and down the streets of New York.

Darkness set in and the eerie tall buildings seem to fade in the darkness. Bottles of water, batteries and ice were non-existent on the dark streets. Bars and local pizza places were open under candlelight for the sole purpose of getting rid of their food and drinks before they went bad. Most places had a limit as to how many items a person could buy. Lewis explained she waited in a line for 3 hours. They limited her to two pizzas only.

“My friends and I had to hide between two parked cars to eat our pizza because we were afraid someone would take it,” Lewis said.

Unlike many of the people who were stranded in the city for the night and forced to sleep on the streets, Lewis and her friends made their way back to their 9th floor apartment. But none of them complained as they soon found it a blessing to be residing near the ground floor.

“That night we had people from the 14 and 15 floors knocking on our door begging us to let them sleep in our room because their room was stifling hot. We considered ourselves lucky,” Lewis said.

Power was restored the next afternoon approximately by 12:45 pm. Virtually every business was closed because of the blackout and the day was referred to as a snow day in August.

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Heather DiLalla

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