Monday, February 02, 2015

1965 … East Coast Blackout

What an eerie sight it was to see New York City virtually closed this week due to dire predictions of an impending storm. It brought back a long forgotten memory.

In 1965 I was living in Dutchess County, NY, approximately 110 miles north of NY City. My husband was a free lance photographer who spent at least 3 days a week with clients in the city and that is where he was on this particular night in November.

I was preparing dinner when the lights went out and I wondered how long it would last and how much of our little town was affected. I tried to phone a neighbor but the phones were out of commission too. I figured that my car radio was probably the only way I could get any news so I bundled up the three children and some blankets and we headed out. Imagine my surprise and concern when I heard a man announce, in a shaky voice, that this was an extensive blackout, that most of New York, including the City, was without electricity and that the cause was unknown.

I tried not to panic. It was eerily black on our road but then I saw a dim light off in the distance. Whew ! I was so happy to see that until I drove up and recognized the huge barn where I knew the farmer had a backup generator for his dairy cows. Now I was really getting concerned and I wondered where my husband was. I knew he would really be worried if he got home and found the house empty so I turned back.

Happily he did arrive about two hours later and he said the City was a mad house. The blackout had struck during rush hour and people streaming out of the subways clogged up the roads and contributed to huge traffic jams. He said he was lucky to get out when he did.

Of course it was first thought to be due to foul play but it was actually caused by a power surge from a Canadian power plant … a huge part of the North-East being without electricity for 12 hours.

That was almost 50 years ago and just imagine how different the scenario would be if we’d had all the technology available today !







Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

I do remember that massive black out. How scary it must have been. Can you imagine being trapped in an elevator?
I did hear that there was a large baby boom 9 months later.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I too recall that blackout as I was living in NJ at the time. And even though we have more technology today, people will still panic as seen last week when smoke filled a NYC subway and folks broke windows, even though the subway authorities later said there was no immediate danger.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Ah yes. I was sitting in the town library, so I got up and walked the mile and a half home. Easy peasy compared to how it was for many.

8:08 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

A good friend was on her first trip to NYC when the blackout occurred. What tales she had to tell when she came home.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember that blackout. As much of the power for NYC comes from the power plants in VA and MD, i.e., from coal burning facilities, I wonder how long the city would be dark if coal is banned.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Overwhelming the grid can really be a problem. I vaguely remember that occurring and other "brownouts".

3:52 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Don't remember it. I was in college. Probably the generators kicked in.
But the possibility of this happening again is something for alarm especially with everything being digitized and no paper records in many places.
I am so grateful for my Generac. What a comfort to know it will turn itself on if anything happens. I wonder how long that big tank of gas will last?

11:32 AM  

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