On this day in 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes.
When the black out happened, I was working in Ann Arbor at the Cable Company and my supervisor asked me to go find gas for his car. So I grabbed his BMW keys, drove home, picked up my daughter, then off we went to find a station that was operational.
Finding a station that was functional was impossible in Ann Arbor, so we went west toward Jackson. The black stopped just west of Ann Arbor. Chelsea, Michigan had power but their stations and stores had lines out the door.
We finally found gas in Grass Lake and got the car back by 630p. So basically we had fun during the day. Night time was miserable, it was hot and boring. Gratefully the power came back in the early morning and I had that day off.
The Cable Company where I worked flooded on the south end due to a creek that overflowed. This was a brand new building and it had fish swimming in it and other nasty things. It took months for the restoration. They built a berm in the back to make sure that creek would not cause anymore problems.
Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Although power companies were able to resume some service in as little as two hours, power remained off in other places for more than a day.
The outage stopped trains and elevators, and disrupted everything from cellular telephone service to operations at hospitals to traffic at airports. In New York City, it took more than two hours for passengers to be evacuated from stalled subway trains.
Small business owners were affected when they lost expensive refrigerated stock. The loss of use of electric water pumps interrupted water service in many areas. There were even some reports of people being stranded mid-ride on amusement park roller coasters. At the New York Stock Exchange and bond market, though, trading was able to continue thanks to backup generators. Where were you? Post your storied in the comments.