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The Night the Lights Went out in NYC (and some other places)

Nation braces for flood of self-absorbed NYC writing. And I get to be part of it this time!

Honestly, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that after hearing that the blackout extended beyond the city I was mad I wasn’t experiencing a NYC-unique moment.

Thursday, I was in a pretty craptastic mood. I hadn’t accomplished anything all day due to the phone ringing off the hook and I was feverishly trying to prepare for the return of my RAs from their day of training up in the village. I didn’t think much at first when the lights went out, because the power goes out all the time in the South. I grabbed a flashlight and started the slow journey down 15 flights of stairs to the security desk in the lobby.

A few frantic cell phone calls with the Director of University Housing later, I was trudging back up 17 flights of stairs to knock on all the residents’ doors and ask them to come down to the lobby, since we didn’t know how long the emergency lighting in the hallways and stairwells would last (turns out, not very long).

I spent most of the night in the lobby, feeling pretty useless and ill-prepared to be in charge of my building during a crisis. After missing the initial throngs in the street around my neighborhood (2 blocks from Wall St), I was able to snap a couple of shots of people drinking next door on the sidewalk (which totally cracked me up) and this blurry shot of the machine gun-toting guards across the street at the Federal Reserve.

Our electricity came back on at 5:45am this morning (maybe because we’re across from the Fed?), but Internet access didn’t return until this evening. And we still don’t have hot water because Con Edison hasn’t turned the steam back on. The lesson learned is that I need to keep a couple of bottles of water and some extra flashlight batteries on hand.

I’m just glad I wasn’t stuck in the subway.

Update: My super tells me that Con Edison won’t have steam running again for hot water until Monday (which I consider far worse than being without electricity). I guess that means no shower, laundry, or washing my dishes for another two days.

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I was able to snap a couple of shots of people drinking next door on the sidewalk (which totally cracked me up)

It’s always amusing to me to see people who are cracked up (or horrified) by people drinking on the street, since in New Orleans where I grew up it’s completely legal and normal.

America, embrace the go-cup!

Chuck | 19 Aug 2003