"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 1960s.
Anyway, the line had been a familiar phrase throughout the recent New York incident: power
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 didnt 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 Id 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 didnt 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 Im writing this note? I dont 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. "Were 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
August 15, 2003