. New York Scene 2

"Where were you when the lights went out?"

Line sounds familiar? It was a movie in 1968 with Doris Day. I do not have a complete recollection of the details, but I remember it was a comedy set in New York 1960’s. Anyway, the line had been a familiar phrase throughout the recent New York incident: power outage.

Where was I? Home.
I was going to meet my husband in SOHO and then go to Chelsea Piers. About 4:40, I got up from a nap. I turned on one of the lights, but it didn’t come out. I checked the other lights and the same thing happened. I thought it was just our building. I started to get ready and finished. When I opened our main door, the light in the hallway was also out, completely dark. So, I thought I’d bring a head flashlight to see my way out of the building. When I reached the corner of our block, I noticed a lot of people walking and hardly was there traffic which was unusual.
Instead of going back, I thought of walking around. As I was pacing at another block, I heard people saying that the subway was not running. I decided to go back to our apartment and wait. No TV to watch the news and no telephone power to call my husband who was probably trying to reach me. I tuned in to our battery-operated radio and listened to one of the news stations. A press conference was being held and my ears received the news that New York was experiencing the biggest power outage in the US history.

Where was my husband? Work and later on a 4-mile hike.
He was trying to reach me, but only heard rings. To my relief, he came home safely and I was very happy to see him. I heard that there were a lot of commuters being stranded, in elevators and subway trains.

Where were the others? Here and there.
The nighttime in our block and the rest of the neighborhood block was very neighborly. People from different apartments building were out exchanging friendly conversations and greetings, another unusual scene; on a regular night especially on working days, people would be inside.
At around 4:30 in the morning, we were woken up by voice sounds. People were shouting that an apartment building across our street, about four blocks to the right, was on fire. We looked out the window and saw smokes coming out. My husband went out to have a closer look. In time, fire trucks came and managed to control and put out the fire. Felt bad for whomever lived in the building.

Overnight and not until ten to six this afternoon, we didn’t have power. At times, we were both tuned in our individual radios listening to news, hoping that power would be back in all parts of the city. I heard synonymous and repetitive words like "rippling," "cascading," "domino effect," and "chain reaction" from different stations. Anyway, the good news came when we were out. My husband and I were walking around our neighborhood and when we reached First Avenue and 86th, we heard people clapping and cheering. Then,we knew that power was back in our 'hood.' We saw people with big smiles on their faces, including ours J .

Why I’m writing this note? I don’t know. Perhaps, just having a nostalgic moment.  Heard people were helping hands to other people and waiting patiently for the normal system to be back. "We’re proud to be New Yorkers who responded calmly to this unexpected incident ," my husband said. And NY extends its appreciation to the out-of-towners and passers-by for their understanding and bearing the crucial moment.

August 15, 2003

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