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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Drastic power cuts: Were you affected?
A woman swings a light to hail a cab in the darkness of New York City following giant blackouts
Residents affected by the blackouts in North America are bracing for Monday's return to work, amid fears that a new surge in demand could strain the power grid.

The huge power cut which left up to 50 million people without electricity in North America probably started in Ohio, industry watchdogs have said.

City dwellers were trapped in lifts and subway trains across the eastern US and Canada and hundreds of thousands of people flooded onto the pavements and highways on foot as buses, trains and airports ground to a standstill.

Where were you when the lights went out? How did you get home? Do you have friends or family hit by the blackouts? Let us know your experiences.

If you have taken any photos please send them to us at yourpics@bbc.co.uk


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Let's just say that as a result of the blackout, there will be an unusually greater number of babies nine months from now...
Anna, Toronto Canada

I was working at Pizza Pizza when we lost Power. I thought, it would be an end of day for us at Pizza Pizza but it ended otherwise. Since Our oven run on Gas and our location is near Wonderland(Theme Park), we got flooded with people. I had never seen so many guests in our store. I was imagining that I was feeding all of the Toronto people.
syed bader, Canada

I imagine it will be one of those vacations one is not likely to forget
Kathryn, Canada
I was going on vacation in Ottawa when the power out struck. My companions and I had just driven for six hours on nearly empty highway, only to find a parking lot made out of the highway through Ottawa. Changing stations on the radio we discovered that the power had gone out through most of southern Ontario and even into the states. It's amazing how the demeanour of people changes and becomes more relaxed and fluid when there is a drastic change, it's not that we couldn't deal with the lack of power, it was just a surprise. When we found that there was nowhere to go and buy food, we played a game of baseball and had peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Nothing could have been finer! I imagine it will be one of those vacations one is not likely to forget.
Kathryn, Canada

I can't believe people are surprised by a blackout. I mean, think about how much power we all consume on a daily basis. We live in a frivolous society where we take everything for granted. Already, even days after this problem, city dwellers air conditioners continue to run. Sure a lot of businesses have cut back, but what about the individual homes that continue to waste power without regulation. Everyone needs to reduce power usage everyday!

As well, how is it that everyone is surprised by the good nature of those around them. I think the way people 'bonded' together should simply be a common-everyday-occurrence. Stop patting yourselves on the back, until you can act towards one another in a friendly manner everyday.
Jordan, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I live in Manhattan (New York, New York) in an area that was blacked out for over 24 hours. The worst part for me, was the pitch dark of the building lobbies and stairwells. I am also concerned because although I have a land wired phone, I was without telephone service. Many people had service and others did not but there has been no accounting by telephone services of what phones systems worked and why. This is valuable information to have in our 9/11 era, when reaching someone on the phone can mean life and death. I would like to hear from the telephone companies about how they did so that I can make an informed decision about what services and equipment will have the best chance of staying on line during a crisis.
Mdeleie, U.S.A.

I couldn't tell you how long we were without electricity exactly because it just didn't seem important to pay attention to that
Emily, USA
I just really don't understand all the fuss. After our power failed Thursday afternoon we read books, watched the rain, and, when it was too dark to see anymore, we counted stars. We slept on the porch, imagining ourselves centuries ago surrounded by forest and farmland. I couldn't tell you how long we were without electricity exactly because it just didn't seem important at the time to pay attention to that. My family were happy and healthy and all together. Governments will come and go and bad things will happen to good people. It takes so much energy to rant and rail and hate that I just choose to not.
Emily, USA

It took me five hours to walk from midtown, Manhattan to Brooklyn. However, I put on my walkman, bought some 99 cent slippers to replace my heels and took it as my workout for the day. New Yorkers are a hardy bunch!
Stacey, USA

I was in my office, thankfully located on the first floor, when the power went out. Since I work in a hospital everyone in my office stayed until our normal hours were over before we locked up. I walked down the middle of 2nd Avenue about 50 blocks to my apartment. In general it was pretty interesting on the streets. Lots of people in bars, free ice cream given out by restaurants, people hitching rides on the back of big trucks... it was a sight to see. It was peaceful at home. I enjoyed relaxing. I did miss having water and being able to shower, but having an excuse to have Mr. Softee for dinner and seeing a great sunset made up for it all.
Catherine H., NYC, USA

I couldn't help but notice how dependant on electric devices we are
Riaz Haniff, Brampton, Canada
I couldn't help but notice how dependant on electric devices we are when we lost power at 4:11pm on Thursday. With no electric devices working we reached into our bags, pockets and knapsacks and pulled out possibly the last electric device we had working, our cell phone. It was quite funny actually, I never realized how much I took electricity for granted until that moment. After making my way though a sea of cars on the highway home, I tried turning on the TV hoping to watch the news with very little luck. With nothing to do, my best friend and I decided it would be a great idea to go out and help direct traffic like the others who had nothing to do. It was great to see everyone helping when such a large scale problem arose. I can truly say that if something happened in the future, I believe we can work together as we did this past weekend to get through it.
Riaz Haniff, Brampton, Canada

My family had no real hardships, we still had water but no means to boil it. The local supermarket were selling the basics such as bread and water. It just reminded me of when I was a kid in South Wales during the coal miners strikes. The worst part of the blackout was no air conditioning, but I did get a day off. I would say that in general people were thoughtful but there are always the odd people, and they can be found in every country not just the USA!
Phil Taylor, Brit in Detroit USA

I work for the Government of Canada. I work in a building where almost all offices are government offices. We were the only ones deemed essential and had to work in the whole building. Suffice to say, I was not amused. We are being very conscientious about use of electricity. Only my computer is on all day, unused lights are all off, air conditioning is off voluntarily. Our city is fifth on the list for rolling blackouts. But our Prime Minister will be in town tomorrow, so we don't think we will be cut off tomorrow.
Debbie Barrand, Canada

During the blackout, we Americans didn't gain the world's attention by trying to earn pity. We know that there are millions in the world today without electricity or running water. Although I did not lose power, those who did managed to stay calm and help those in need. We didn't want or need the world's pity. We handled the blackout fine, especially in New York City.
Tim, Bethesda, MD, USA

I expect more of the same for the rest of August
Kevin Gibb, Ottawa
Was away on a week long canoe trip when we heard about the power failure on my shortwave radio. I suppose that this was inevitable given the lack of investment in the electric utilities in both Ontario and the US. I expect more of the same for the rest of August. Probably see a change in the Ontario Government at the next election.
Kevin Gibb, Ottawa Canada

It was glorious. Times Square with the lights out, very calm and peaceful. People hanging out, sitting around on the sidewalks, families sleeping out in the open without a care in the world, people drinking out in the open streets (yet behaving appropriately) with police officers walking by. Great scenes. Very memorable night. NYers at their best behaviours on a night of 'supposed' crisis.
A. Ahbab, NY, USA

My cell phone was intended to be utilized for emergencies - it failed when I most needed it - Sept 11 and the blackout of Aug 14. The problem was common with the other providers. The carriers in the USA should do something about the services - the fees & taxes are outrageous and we pay for incoming and outgoing calls but cannot get the services expected.
NRambudhan, USA

I was locking up our midwifery clinic for the day when the power went out. ALL the radio stations were not broadcasting. I had a postnatal visit to do, and found traffic lights out at every intersection for the whole 30km drive. Later the blackout became rather fun. After sunset we went for a stroll through the dark, while a huge orange moon rose. The silence was tremendous. We had a spectacular view of Mars that night, and saw constellations we had never before seen. The only glitch was my beeper not working, which meant my answering service had to telephone the house with labour calls - despite having to light a candle to return the calls it actually was a nice change!!!
Elizabeth Fulton, Canada

My whole lifestyle needs to change!
Arezoo, Canada
I sat with a single candle, in my boiling hot room and thought about everything I subconsciously do everyday to contribute to global warming. Using take out utensils and containers, driving a car, buying plastic things I never use from the dollar store... my whole lifestyle needs to change! I have lived in countries like Japan and Korea where their use of plastic, easily replaceable items were comparatively less. I have been raised with too much comfort and convenience and MY choices are having an effect. I agree with Mr Bush. This is definitely a wake up call for us, but not just to upgrade a power grid.
Arezoo, Canada

Like many people, I live in a rural area where we a very dependent on electricity for everything especially to pump water to flush our toilets. After the Ice Storm, we have learned to ALWAYS be prepared with supplies of batteries, fresh drinking water, candles, matches and non-perishable food items. I think a huge debt of gratitude should go all those front line emergency workers who got hydro back on-line, who helped those in need, and who went the extra mile to do their bit. Thanks from me and everyone else!
Anita Rotheram, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I was at work in Midtown (Manhattan), I walked down 29 flights of stairs and then all the way home to Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge - I have blisters the size of saucers on the soles of my feet. I just wanted to get home before dark. But, as fun an adventure as it was, it was all too reminiscent of 9/11 and once again, it was the overworked and underpaid fire department that helped us. The sense of community amongst all of us "bridge walkers" was amazing, but the smell of rotting food and garbage still permeates the air in some parts!
Nathalie B, NY, USA

Another day without power and my family and I would have been in serious trouble
Andrew, Michigan
All I keep hearing from the media is how its great that everyone is pulling together to get through these hardships. Well all I can say is that none of my neighbours checked in on my wife who was home with two children and only two weeks away from having her third. When I called our city to ask where I could get water as I have no power to boil (electric stove), they said just keep checking the stores. We never had fuel to go driving all over town and what I heard was that all the water was soon gone anyway. Another day without power and my family and I would have been in serious trouble. What a sad state this country is in.
Andrew, Michigan

This is not a big deal. I used to live in Asia where we constantly had black outs at least once a month. I was in the office when the power went out. I had to walk down the stairs from the 21st floor. But then I realized I didn't want to spend hours of walking. So, I popped out my credit card and stayed at one of the five star hotels in midtown. No problem.
K King, New York, USA

We should consider this a fire drill of sorts. A wake-up call for all of us. Now we KNOW what we need at home and/or work in order to make it thru a power-outage. And the authorities are now aware of what COULD happen and why. Now they know what is needed to prevent this type of situation. I enjoyed the change of pace and appreciate what I have.
Y. Baig, Detroit, MI, USA

24 hours in the dark is nothing and even though I've lost most of my food (disability pays once a month) I'll get by. The real annoying thing about this is governments on both sides of the border apparently knew that our power grid was in bad shape and chose to ignore it due to civil servants giving bad advice to various political figures
Mike Potter, Canada

The US complains that Japan and the EU must further privatise and reform. Yet again, this time in the energy sector, we see what this leads to: America, the greatest power on earth, cannot keep the lights switched on.
Paul Mullenmeister, Canada

My first thought was for my Grandmother, who due to medical reasons needs a constant temperature. After panicking, then finding out she was not affected, I realised that there would be many other people in her situation that were not so lucky. I was really pleased to read about the community spirits, and hope that it continues. We could do with something like that in London! You guys have my sympathy.
Alice, UK

This was a wake up call to Canada and the USA to reduce energy usage
Amanda, Canada, Toronto
Mars and stars visible, pedestrians and streetcar drivers directing traffic, people guzzling ice cream and beer before it got warm, barbecues and conversations on porches, and lovely silence with the darkness. Wonderful! For many unprepared people this was a wake up call to put together an emergency kit. Also, this was a wake up call to Canada and the USA to reduce energy usage. Imagine if the money the USA spent on the Iraq war had been spent on renewable sources of energy and upgrading the grid!
Amanda, Canada, Toronto

It is refreshing to see the greediest and most wasteful country on the face of the earth brought to its knees by its own incompetence and abuse of the world's resources.
Ian Wyles, England

Though it may not have been for those stuck in the city, I thought the power blackout was wonderful. It was the first truly black night I have ever seen here, the first night in ages I did not watch television and really one of the most peaceful periods I have ever experienced living here in the New York metropolitan area. I think it's high time we abolish electricity and go back to nature. I think a natural life would be far more fulfilling than this modern day joke we call civilization!
Oscar Harris, NY metro area, USA

The fall out from the blackouts have hit many people who are not in the areas directly affected. My parents and 2 younger sisters have been visiting family in Newfoundland, Canada and were due to fly back to Heathrow overnight on Friday. They turned up at the airport 3 hours before take-off only to be told that their seats had been given to someone else due to the power outage and that they won't be able to get a flight home until at least Tuesday night. Both my Dad and sister were due back at work Sunday and Monday and my mother, who is recovering from breast cancer will now miss 2 important hospital appointments. It seems that the airlines are inconveniencing the maximum number of people possible rather than keeping it to a minimum.
Vanessa, UK

I had to postpone my power lunch because of the power cuts.
Des Currie, Umdloti, South Africa

I was in the vestibule of my girlfriend's apartment block. I was trying to get buzzed in when the power went out. I can't help to think that if I had been a minute earlier I would have been in the elevator when the lights went out!
Evan Acs, Canada

Traffic at a standstill due to the power outage in NYC
Photo of NYC sent in by Adam Lambert-Gorwyn
Have to say, I had a great time: sat outside a deli in Brooklyn playing guitar and singing, drinking beer until three in the morning. It was nice the way everyone drove carefully when the traffic lights went off: The general consensus was that we shouldn't turn them back on.
Cathal Murphy, USA

I was affected by the blackout the power went out on Thursday at 4:15pm local time and came back on Friday at 5:30am local time. The power we did get was shaky. We lost power four times on Friday for short periods of time. The power outage for me and most people was no big deal. In fact maybe a blessing. It forced us to talk with our families and neighbours and other things that we find ourselves not having time to do.

The big problem wasn't the power outage on an individual basis. Power outages happen all the time. It was the magnitude of the power outage and the people who suffered where the people required in the emergency services as they became extremely stretched. But giving the circumstances did extremely well.
Erik, Windsor Ontario Canada

It was actually quite fun
Chris, UK, on holiday in Canada
I am staying just outside Toronto and our power went off, too. It was actually quite fun - we could all see the stars extremely clearly and we had to use candles everywhere. There were a few downsides, however - firstly, the queues for gas stations and convenience stores that were open were horrendous. Secondly, nobody knew what was happening as we didn't have a TV or radio. There was not much panic at all - people just wondered what had happened and when the power would be back.
Chris, UK, on holiday in Canada

I was in a high rise in downtown getting ready to leave for home. We knew right away it was very serious. I then normally have a 45 minute drive home. It took two and half hours due to all the traffic lights being out and so many others on the road. I want to stress, there was no panic and only cooperation. Citizens were directing traffic at intersections, people were helping each other and so on.

Iraqi could take a lesson from how to handle bad situations with cooperation. We were all scared to some degree, didn't know what happened, didn't know what to expect but didn't go out looting and hurting others.
Anon, Cleveland, US

I work in New York but live over the river in New Jersey. Like many people my commute home on Thursday was a little longer than usual (five hours instead of 45 minutes). It was nice to see how well everyone behaved. We stood in line for the ferries for three and a half hours with very few people 'pushing in' - it was such a good queue that I felt as though I were still living in England!
Stefan Marciniak, NYC, USA

I was in a bar when the lights went out, so at least I got a few drinks in! Seriously, the friendliness and willingness to help of the people of New York was truly moving. Some of the staff in my hotel worked 48 hours straight through, not knowing what was happening to their own homes.
Anthony Jones, Brit in NYC

I was in Greenwich Village and I walked home. It was rather like a street fair; traffic was grid locked and people were just walking through the city. The greatest difficulties were lack of water and elevator service to my 17th floor apartment.
Sandy Hawkins, United States

It was the day folks briefly came away from their TV sets and talked to each other
S.A.T., Toronto, Canada
It was the day folks briefly came away from their TV sets and talked to each other face to face on their porches; all the children actually played outside! It was also the first time I'd ever seen stars in the city. I found I had to fight the pervading hysteria calmly perpetuated by the media by venturing out for a long walk through nearly totally darkened streets. At night, the paranoia was palpable, as folks with powerful flashlights tried to ward off darkness and fear. But as one friend's mother blithely put it "it's the lights people". Makes me think that I'd love to live off of the grid entirely some day soon.
S.A.T., Toronto, Canada

In Guelph most people took the power outage as an opportunity to BBQ with friends and neighbours and drink the beer before it got warm. Impromptu street parties with neighbours, lots of ice cream for the kids, an almost full moon and lots of stars in the night sky. We're slowly having power restored and yes some food has gone bad but as power came on for some they took the food from friends freezers to minimize the loss. An interesting experience but not an unpleasant one.
Laura, Canada

I was in my offices when the power went out. We made sure that we unplugged everything then walked down to the ground and tried to get home. The roads were pretty chaotic and it took me two hours to do a 20 minute drive but everyone was very patient and courteous. Power came back on yesterday evening and this morning we woke to running water... yippee. Makes you realize how vulnerable we are, and unprepared. Thank goodness for helpful neighbours. Oh and lastly, there was NO looting in Detroit - the City handled it all magnificently.
Sheila, USA

What a blessing! I got to see the stars from my own roof like nothing before, a trip across town with friends was a pure adventure, and my university exams got cancelled. HOORAY!
ST, Toronto, Canada

The Americans need to learn how lucky they are and become less complacent
Graham Wright, UK
Here in the Highlands of Scotland power cuts are a weekly occurrence in the winter months with it sometimes taking up to 38 hours to restore the power. The Americans need to learn how lucky they are and become less complacent with their system if this is the first blackout that they have had in 'years'!
Graham Wright, UK

It seems that no one has any sympathy for the USA, and many people are very callous about the situation. I was not affected because I am in the South, but I still feel for all the people who lost power. As for people who have said "it's only a power cut they still have food and water" they should understand that there was no water supply and parents with children and babies found it hard to get water for baby's milk etc. It was a BAD situation and people should realise it had a lot more affect than just having no lights or TV.
G Lewis, USA formally UK

I don't really understand why it is such a big deal! I'm from the West Indies and we have power cuts at least once or twice a year. I think that whatever happens in America will be multiply by two no matter what, just because they are a powerful country. How about people living in some places in Africa, no food, no water, no light! Do I really feel sorry for the Americans? NO!
Marie, London

I was watching breakfast on the BBC when the paper review was on. After talking about America, the presenters reminisced about our power cuts in 1972-74. I remember 1972 in particular. I was ten and we had to perform our school nativity play using pit lamps - we still had pits in those days! Because this happened over a couple of years got it in to my head power cuts were a normal thing, so when they stopped I could not understand it. Happy days?
Peter R Hall, UK

It is 12:45 in the morning of Saturday we just got power and water. My son who is in the national guard is out patrolling the street for looters with his unit after spending two weeks up north on his yearly duty. We are grateful to now have water to boil to give to our pets and for our drinking purposes, and water for flushing the toilets. We lost all of the food from our refrigerator which will now have to be dumped. My husband who is in a cast can now wash and cool off. The only problem is the cost of the food which hurts as my husband was just laid off at the age of 58. Yes I can see why our friends in Europe can see this as a very funny incident for us fat cats in the USA.
Diana, USA Rochester MI

There were two hour line ups at working gas stations
Tina, Michigan, US
I live in the Detroit Metro area, and I was out shopping when the power went out. What a zoo! The cashier had to fill receipts out by hand before she gave up and closed the store. What is normally a ten minute trip from the store to my home took an hour. The freeways and highways turned into one big parking lot. There were two hour line ups at working gas stations. Only two radio stations were on the air. Right now I'm lucky. My power came back on this morning, but my friend who lives 5 minutes away is still without.
Tina, Michigan, US

It's hilarious that some US citizens think consider a power-cut a major catastrophe and moan about having to walk as little as three miles home. It's about time Americans realised what was happening to people in other countries (starvation, drought etc) before they started moaning about having to climb down stairs.
Sarah, London, UK

The silence here is incredible, especially at night. Staying home at night seems to be a good idea as driving without stop lights or street lights is scary. I think it is very important that these things occur, because it prepares us for catastrophes in the future. One thing is for sure, I am sure as hell buying a radio that works on cheap batteries! It was almost an hour before I found out that the power was out across all of Ontario.
Dawn Elizabeth, Canada

We are an English family currently living in the New York area. I work in Times Square and my family were visiting Manhattan on Thursday. We all ended up spending the night in the office before getting a car back to the 'burbs around 8am Friday. Although all around appeared relatively calm in the circumstances, the most disturbing issue in my view is how such a large area of the most powerful nation on earth was disabled and that this continues to be the case so long after the initial event. After all that has happened over the past two years, clearly this country remains extremely vulnerable and much has to be done to safeguard its people in the future.
Andy Richardson, USA

While the power outage disrupted business, it was nice to see people congregating to street corners, plazas and parks. Everyone, for the most part, was as friendly as could be. People utilized all the outdoors had to offer, instead of staying at home.
Brian A. Ross, Albany, NY - USA

The media seems to be blowing this whole thing way out of proportion
Emily, MI, USA
I was at home when the power went out. No big deal, everyone in my neighbourhood came and sat out and drank on their front porches and BBQ'd dinner. It was almost like a block party until it got dark. We lost power at 4:10pm and didn't get it back until 11am today. We were lucky and still had water throughout the whole ordeal. The media seems to be blowing this whole thing way out of proportion.
Emily, MI, USA

I find it ironic how much coverage and sympathy the US and Canada black-outs are generating. The poor Iraqis are still without electricity more than four months after American troops invaded their country to ostensibly make their lives better.
Stephen, UK

Maybe it's Mother Nature's way of getting her own back - after all the States is the biggest user of Electricity and the biggest producer of harmful substances to the environment. It serves them right.
Matty R, UK

They are so many helpful people in New York. A driver stopped for us on 99th St and took us to where our car was parked in the Bronx, then we decided on helping someone else, who happened to live 2 blocks from us and the other way up in Peekskil. We ended up eating at a diner in Peekskill and then heading home.
Jennifer Pablos, USA (New York City)

It certainly makes us acknowledge how reliant we are on power and modern technology
Helen Sharratt, Canada
I live in London, Canada and many parts of the city are still without power. I went to work this morning and was greeted by a Receptionist surrounded by candles. It certainly makes us acknowledge how reliant we are on power and modern technology.
Helen Sharratt, Canada

I was driving back through New York when all the lights just went out. I thought to myself, 'this is what it must be like in Baghdad'...
Boris, US

Finally people seem to realise that power does not just come out of the wall.
Heinz Hubbert, Canada

It takes a major power outage to cause chaos in America. All it takes in England is a bit of warm weather!
Karl, Brit in USA

This all happened because the private power industry will not pay to upgrade its infrastructure, despite its profitable status. The time has come to nationalize all US utilities. The government is not always profitable or efficient, but it at least is accountable to the people.
Shawn, Eugene, OR, USA

My wife was outta here like a photon out of a quasar when the building manager announced the extent of the cut (thank God for Y2K paranoia and battery-powered intercoms!), and hauled 16 kg of ice up 20 floors to save our food!
Paul Connor, Canada

First time I saw the stars in the sky since I was a kid.
John, Connecticut, U.S.

These days, I know better to keep a few candles in my cupboard
Crispin, Singapore
Don't mean to be insensitive. But I was actually laughing when I heard the news of the big black out. I spent sometime in Vietnam. I had experienced black outs so many times. Back then, I felt like I had return to a primitive stage. I felt that I took everything for granted back in my own home. These days, I know better to keep a few candles in my cupboard. Hope it'll be alright in the US and Canada. Power or not, work still needs to be done, babies still need to be fed.
Crispin, Singapore

About six months ago my wife filled empty water jugs with tap water and stuck them in the basement. I politely and not very supportively told her "whatever you want dear", but last night I thanked her as we brushed our teeth with clean water by candlelight. I can't really blame Bush for the outages but it makes you wonder. First Florida, 911, Iraq, and now this. Is Bush just bad luck?
Michael Polsinelli, Cleveland, Ohio

We lost power on Thursday at 4:10 or so. A 20 minute drive home from work took me an hour and a half and then immediately, I went out and helped direct traffic. Elsewhere, restaurants were offering free drinks and use of washroom facilities to the thousands of people who were walking home. It was great though to see how everyone has calmly coped with this. This is just another reason to say I'm proud to be Canadian.
FS, Toronto, Canada

How awkward: the most advanced country of the world, able to get rid of any regime anywhere within weeks, able to explore space, but unable to restore power to millions of its citizens within a few hours. It clearly proves the need for the electricity grid in the States to be upgraded urgently. In Europe something like this would be solved within a few hours at the most.
Luc van de Velde, Belgium

What's all the fuss about? Back in Lebanon, the only time power was on the news was whenever it was on.
Joe Abounader, Canada/ Lebanon

People were great, everyone pitched in. I love NY
Paul Whalen, NYC, US
I walked down 35 flights to the chaos of 40th and Madison Ave. in New York City. No one was yelling or screaming, just lots of very hot people in the streets, all moving like lemmings to the bridges. Walked across the upper span of the 59th Street Bridge to Queens with thousands all around me. Helicopters buzzed overhead. The cars were all at a standstill until Queens Blvd. We hitched a ride from several people, all who had to stop because they had no gas and no stations could pump w/out elec. Buses took me the rest of the way to Manhasset, Long Island for free. People were great, everyone pitched in. I love NY.
Paul Whalen, NYC, US

Was stuck in elevator alone, no one could hear me. My throat was sore from shouting, but finally after 3 hours, policeman rescued me after he heard my cell phone ring. Cell phone had no signal but I tried to play the ringtone all the time
Rajiv Bhopani, Canada

Now the New Yorkers and others have experienced 'briefly' what it is like in Iraq with no electricity and water. Are we supposed to feel sorry for the Americans??? I say 'Poetic Justice' but not enough of it!!!
BW Moore, UK

Have they never heard of solar power?
Debbie, UK

Does this mean I might finally find energy saving light bulbs in the local Walmart? With Bush in charge of the nation.. not likely.
CL, Ohio USA

My family played Scrabble, had a picnic dinner, played card games by candle light, set off a few fireworks and had a living room camp out. What Fun! My seven year old hopes we have black outs more often!
Lisa Finnigan, Upstate New York

This morning--what a terrible thing to admit, but I'm such an addict--I left the house before the children woke up and walked all 45 minutes back, just because I knew I could tap into the generator at the hospital where I work and get a cup of coffee, and bring home my filtered water from work. How's a 21st century woman supposed to boil water without electricity? Well, I better be heading home now. They say we may not have power all weekend.
Alice, Ann Arbor, MI

Maybe we need these blackouts to help us share our lives with the ones living closest to us.
Dean C.K. Cox, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Sure the blackout was an inconvenience. But, within minutes hundreds of people in my Park Slope neighbourhood of Brooklyn gathered on the stoops and steps of brownstone homes and apartments. I finally found out that one neighbour is an acupuncturist, her husband a Ukrainian immigrant. More than a dozen of us talked for hours, sharing a beer, hotdogs and German schnapps. Maybe we need these blackouts to help us share our lives with the ones living closest to us.
Dean C.K. Cox, Brooklyn, New York, USA

I am visiting Toronto from the UK for an academic conference. I have to say that I think Toronto must be the best city in the world to be in during such a blackout. People have been great! Calm, courteous and resourceful. My hat's off to them!!
Terry King, Toronto Canada

As long as accountants or economists are making the design decisions instead of engineers, we will have blackouts, water shortages, transport problems etc. Let's get back to a sane system where profit isn't the only issue.
Bob Flaherty, Australia

Adversity builds character, they say, and it seems NYC has quite a lot of character. Citizens out directing traffic. Restaurants giving out free food. A report of 4 burglaries in the entire city... and a community confident and stronger than ever. Life goes on, and hello from Harlem!
Jude, NYC, USA

All I have to say is that Bush and his administration should be held responsible for all this mess in the United States.
Preston, USA

Welcome to the realities that millions round the world put up with
Vince, Kenya
Capital city and economic hub shut down by power cuts, food rotting in fridges, no water supply, temperatures soaring and no a/c, traffic chaos as lights fail. Yes, just another day in downtown...Nairobi. Welcome to the realities that millions round the world put up with as a normal day in the city.
Vince, Kenya

It may not be 9/11 but it's still a serious situation. Cell phone networks didn't work and many other ways of getting info didn't work as they perhaps should have. If we ever have another 9/11, these systems are going to be very important and they are in need of serious upgrades. Also, it's going to get into the mid 90's today and without air conditioning, many people could be in danger of heat related health problems.
Antonio Rosario, Brooklyn, USA

While the power failure must seem catastrophic to the residents of the affected areas in the USA and Canada, it's a common occurrence for many Third World countries (including Nigeria). I am concerned though that this incident may just have exposed another area in which the US may be vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
Dele Aloko, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Ordinary citizens appointed themselves temporary "traffic cops" and directed traffic
Jacqui, USA
I was in my office on the phone when the lights went out. I walked down 18 flights of stairs and already felt like jelly. I walked 3 miles home, taking the long route to avoid Times Square in case this was terrorist related. There were millions of people in the streets and the traffic was grid-locked, especially close to the Lincoln tunnel. Ordinary citizens appointed themselves temporary "traffic cops" and directed traffic, trying to make sure emergency services' vehicles could get through. The worst part was getting home and having to climb 17 flights of stairs carrying my PC. Electricity came back on at 5.35 but there is still no TV or phone service. Water back on though.
Jacqui, USA

I find it very funny the media is covering this as a New York crisis. What about Cleveland and other major cities affected?
Matt, USA

Isn't it interesting that the questions being asked are how to increase the supply of power and improve the grid. What might happen if instead people in the U.S. focused on reducing the reliance on power? There are many simple solutions to reducing power use which in no way reduce quality of life. A couple of simple examples are replacing light bulbs with lower power alternatives and turning off all decorative lighting (including lighting the exteriors of huge buildings) after a certain time of day.
Ariel, Spain

Everyone remained calm, and there was no panic
Ken Pryde, NYC, United States
I'm an English guy living in New York. I think the city handled the situation in a very competent manner, at least as well as could be expected for a total blackout in a metropolis. Everyone remained calm, and there was no panic. Police and EMS patrols were doing regular circuits of the pitch-dark neighbourhoods all night, and the community spirit was definitely alive. The vista of New York City, a city that never rests, in abject darkness is an image that will I will never forget. The lack of electricity rammed home just how reliant we are on that invisible little electron to simply exist each day, and how utterly helpless we are without it.
Ken Pryde, NYC, United States

I am in Toronto, and we are still out of power and now water is out. The food in the fridge is getting spoiled and no way to cook other than BBQ. Gas pumps are not working. A/C not working.
Adonis Contreras, Canada

What a fabulous opportunity for stargazing. It was wonderful.
Toni, Canada

Who cares? This is not news. Just a minor inconvenience for Americans and Canadians.
Paul, Japan

I'm a Welsh girl living near Toronto. It was very eerie driving back from Niagara Falls in the darkness - very scary. Didn't look forward to getting back to a very hot home. Power's been off for about seven hours; starting to worry about losing food in the freezer. Probably sleep in the cool basement with candles. I'm in an area that won't have power before midnight.
Deano Wilson, Canada

I was at work at a plastic auto parts plant when the power went out. I thought it was the plant's transformer which blows out quite often but then I heard from someone who had a radio that power was out from New York to Detroit. We were all sent home... not even two hours into our shift. So some of us did benefit from this outage.
Chris Sherwin, Canada

The blackout affected operations at the bookstore in which I work here in Winnipeg (central Canada). As our servers are located in Toronto, we were unable to process card transactions. Consequently, we suffered some loss in sales. It is very likely many other retailers were similarly affected. I found it interesting that when we informed our customers of the blackout down East, nearly everyone asked if it was a terrorist attack. Strange times we live in.
Darren Dupras, Canada

People in the US love convenience and we are too much dependent on technology. These kinds of problems are hard to handle.
Asad Ali Khan, New Jersey

My sister-in-law in upstate NY said my sister was making a run to buy ice for all the neighbours before it was sold out. She said they were going to burn candles when it gets dark. But they are all fine and she was glad she got out of doing dishes. Her children think it's an adventure and are enjoying it. Imagine, even with no television they are surviving.
Cheryl, US

The worst part is Bush did not address the people for hours
Lawrence Teten, US
One out of nine Americans are from New York or have family there. It is very frightening knowing you can due nothing. The US media loves to speculate on anything except the truth, which makes it worse. Thankfully the BBC news kept us all up to date. The worst part is that Bush did not address the people for hours. The obvious fact that this was not an accident was completely denied through the media and government.
Lawrence Teten, US

I finally heard from my mom out on Long Island that Grandma is fine. She was at Bloomingdale's in Midtown when the lights went out. She, of course, couldn't raise anyone by cell, waited forever to get a payphone and finally found someone to come get her. I don't know what she's gonna do now though cuz my aunt lives up on the 22nd floor. She can't make it up those stairs...
Carlos, US

Kinda reminds me of Pakistan!! It made me homesick!!
Abbas, Canada

I am currently working on a summer camp in New York State when the blackout affected us; it was difficult to try and reassure the kids who were fearing it was the prelude to another 9/11 incident.
David Ryan, Manchester, England

It gave me the time to get away from the fast world we live in
Paul, US
I personally used the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk the dark streets of upstate NY. I found the event quite fascinating. It gave me the time to get away from the fast world we live in and let me relax for a while. I enjoyed the blackout considering the amount of silence and stressless motion.
Paul, US

I have just returned home to find a message on the answerphone from my nephew in Toronto. They are affected but their concern is that it was possibly a terrorist attack. They have no means of finding out what has happened so had to ring the UK. He says that gangs are forming on the streets to begin looting when it gets dark. He says they have battened down the hatches and will stay put in the apartment until the lights come on.
Brenda Underhill, England

This should not happen again, especially in Manhattan. NYC relies on electricity more than any other place. People are trapped in elevators and underground subways (which are very hot on a normal day, I've lived there).
Jim Paucar, California

I witnessed nothing that even resembled panic while I made the two hour walk home through downtown Toronto today. Aside from annoyed motorists stuck in traffic (who, by the way, were being directed by Samaritan pedestrians) the prevalent mood of Torontonians was one of community. On my way, I repeatedly saw groups of people sitting and chatting together in pubs, playing sports in the parks and calmly strolling down the pavements. Now that my neighbourhood has had the electricity returned, I will quote one of the aforementioned impromptu traffic directors I just saw on the local news, "Everyone has been super-nice!"
Dale Street, Toronto, Canada

I was on the phone to my tax accountant when the power went out. Her last words to me were "I think I've just successfully entered your entire 2002 return into the computer." It's due August 15th.
Richard, USA

It's frightening because the news is eerily reminiscent of 9/11. The radios and televisions are all focused on what's going on and there are thousands of people wandering around the streets. I live a couple of miles outside of NYC and it's affecting us greatly because most of us have family and friends who work in the city and they are stranded on Manhattan with little in the way of getting in touch with us, and no way of getting home at this point.
Matt, NYC, USA

'Echoes of 9/11' it is not
Andy, UK
From the looks of things I would say the way the media are making a huge deal out of it. The loss of power isn't life threatening, hospitals have generators. Telecommunications have generators as do major data centres. Granted this is a major inconvenience for people, but "echoes of 9/11" it is not.
Andy, UK

I work in one of the few NY buildings that has back up generator power. The streets are strewn with people, with hundreds trying to grab some sleep on the sidewalks and kerbs. It is terribly still and very hot and humid. There was no panic, city employees were handing out bottled water to the thousands of stranded individuals. I was in the city during and immediately after 9/11, as essential personnel, and the feeling in the city is quite different. Post 9/11, the infrastructure was still mostly working but there was not a soul around. This is the reverse. The streets are thick with people, but it is the fabric of the city that is stricken.
Clare, USA

This will serve as lesson that backup generators should be installed in every airports no matter what level of technology you might had attained and they should thank their star that the incident does not involve the whole country.
Femi, Ireland

It's so strange to find yourself cut off from any form of information other than rumours on the street. It's also strange to realize how very dependant we are on electricity. The power just came back on here in Toronto (it's 5 am). Thank God! The first thing I did was turn on the TV (no cable back yet) then the internet to try to find out what happened.
Cheryl Curtis, Canada

I was fortunate enough to be on holiday from work this week. So I didn't get caught on the subway or in an elevator. In this world of electronic gadgetry and video game entertainment for kids, people had to amuse themselves by spending time with each other for a change. My only true concern was to make sure family members were OK and I worried for the sick and elderly who rely on the power to keep cool and some kind of life support. At 4:36am Toronto time it kicked back in.
Sandra McLean, Canada

The blackout affected our final exam schedules to delay in universities. People are actually more friendly to eachother. I actually heard homeless people singing "The power is out, Jesus is coming!!"
Atee, Toronto

My cousin had been trapped on the A train
Augusta, South Carolina, US
I received a call from my cousin who had been trapped on the A train. She was quite freaked - two years ago she spent over three hours trapped in traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel after the terrorist attacks.
Augusta, South Carolina, US

Our Al Green concert in Michigan was delayed two hours tonight because of the power outage, but was just wonderful once it started. Perhaps it ran on generators? So we were really shocked to come home and see that folks in NY were still in the dark. My prayers to all of them for a safe and comfortable night.
Amy, Michigan, US

I have been producing this Christmas record for the last three months. It is the final track of the final vocal take of the final song before I mixdown. Lori is in great singing form, and then "poof" goes the power, and wipes the tracks away. :) We rerecorded them of course, but still, of all the moments.
J Buddah, US

I was working on my thesis on my computer when the lights began dimming a bit every few minutes. I saved the document and a few minutes later the power died. Whew!
Hooman Ganjavi, Toronto, Canada

My heart dropped when I first heard the news. We are still so jittery after 9/11. It took a few hours to mellow out and realize this was deja-vu after all.
Mari, Cuban in US

We had to walk up 36 floors with two kids
Samia Zaman, Manhattan, USA
We had to walk up 36 floors with two kids (eight and four). My husband was evacuated from a UN building, and had to walk down 19 floors. Many residential and office buildings do not have generators to run lifts. But the biggest problem is there is no water - and not much about it in the media. It has already been more than 12 hours for us, and getting water is the main problem at the moment.
Samia Zaman, Manhattan, USA

What a lovely night it was! Until the moon rose I could actually see thousands of stars, and Mars was a blaze of reddish glory. I was keenly disappointed when the power returned, and glaring white lights blared out everywhere. Why must we bathe our cities in unnatural brilliance all night anyway? I find it an annoyance and a dreadful waste of energy. Still, it's nice to have my internet back...
Tom Lazarus, USA

As my ISP is Canadian I have been unable to retrieve any of my emails... so much for the global economy.
D Owen, UK

Our complete US network has gone down due to back up power supplies failing overnight. What impact will this have on my business?
Paul, UK

Strange that the blaster worm is due to hit Microsoft today, just as the power goes out. Strange, very strange indeed.
Pete, UK

I live in Staten Island, NY. It's one of the five boroughs of NYC. The power went out at 4:14pm and I just got power back now (it's 4:14am). After the sun set, it was pitch black! Crazy stuff, but hey, we're New Yorkers, we can handle it.
Jon, NY USA

This is excellent for the environment
M, UK
This is excellent for the environment. One day of a blackout like this saves our environment tremendously. It should happen more often.
M, UK

In the last 24 hours, the number of junk emails I have received is much lower than normal, thanks no doubt to the power failures in the US. Perhaps an America deprived of electricity would let the rest of the world live peacefully...
Dani A, France

Although I am pro-US and pro-Iraq war I can't help but think that maybe the US have now experienced a little of what it has been like for the millions of Iraqis who have had intermittent or no power for months. Not having their TV working or being stuck in a lift would be the least of their worries.
Scott, UK

Power out at 4:20pm. It was restored at 1:00am. Mayor Isabel Turner declared public emergency. Sewage pipe broke and leaked into Lake Ontario. People encouraged to use water sparingly as reserves are not that great. If you did not have to drive you were asked to get off the roads. Downtown shut down totally. Hospitals and prisons coped well. Got to see a starlight sky for the first time in years. The moon and Mars never looked better. All in all, like Ice Storm 98 without the freezing cold.
Heather, Canada

Probably the world's most calm and orderly crisis
Jeff, Toronto
Probably the world's most calm and orderly crisis. At least here in Toronto. You could see a few shot nerves but mostly just people making the best of a bad situation. I just live an hour walk from my office downtown and the stroll home was quite peaceful. People on their steps drinking beer, BBQs cooking up supper, neighbours getting to know one another.
Jeff, Toronto

Odd blackout. I live six miles west of Staten Island. Our electricity was out for all of three seconds.
Philip, New Jersey, US

I can honestly say, I've never felt so Amish in my life. I work in a motel just outside of Cleveland, Ohio and once our power went out, we just thought it was us or someone crashed into a light pole. It was very different. Checking people in became a chore, and if you didn't have a reservation, we couldn't give rooms out because our computers were down. It was one big awful mess.
Bob Keeney, USA

It was absolute chaos in the city
Lucy, Jersey City, NJ, USA
I left my office in Manhattan at about 4:30pm and made it home (just across the river) at about midnight. It was absolute chaos in the city. Everyone was very calm, but no-one was giving us any information. I've had to come on the BBC website to find out exactly what happened, because no radio stations here can give a clear idea. I tried to get a ferry from NYC, but they soon stopped as they all ran out of fuel.

The queues were terrible; people fainting everywhere from the heat. Also, my friend's plane from Heathrow to Newark had to turn back halfway through the flight. The worrying thing is that it shows just how unprepared New York is for a crisis such as this. you would have thought after 9/11 they would have had some better contingency plans.
Lucy, Jersey City, NJ, USA

Although many surrounding cities lost power, I was fortunate. The power fluctuated several times for about 10 seconds and that was it. It wasn't until later that I realised what had actually occurred. Thank goodness that our city has its own coal power plant.
Jason, Michigan, USA

Since our government decided in its infinite wisdom to privatise the electricity generators a couple of years ago, we are slowly moving to a situation where similar things get more likely and have already happened. Last week the whole country had a reserve capacity of 300MW left, which prompted the regulator 'Tennet' to declare 'code red'. A couple of months ago Rotterdam was at a standstill because of a power cut which lasted 2 hours.
Marc Remijn, Netherlands

I'm working in downtown Toronto in an office running on a generator. There is no air conditioning OR lights but some of our PCs work. My drive commute in took two hours and normally takes 1/2 hour. People were losing the plot and driving up the hard shoulder!!
Stephen Gourlay, Canada

Occasions like this bring out the best - and worst in people
Carl, Mississauga, Ontario
Occasions like this bring out the best - and worst in people. I live just outside of Toronto (Mississauga) and many people helped direct traffic until the police arrived. Fuel prices at some gas stations actually went down, although there were very long line-ups. Sadly, I heard of looting in Ottawa.
Carl, Mississauga, Ontario

We finally got power back at about 9:30 eastern time but parts of town still don't have it back as well as parts of other towns in the area. It was weird driving home because some blocks would be lit and then you go two more down and they were dark. Sadly this shows how vulnerable we are to any attack on our power grid, I don't understand how a power plant needs power to generate power.
Rob, Lyndhurst, NJ USA

It took over four hours to leave Manhattan tonight. Much of the time moving from area to area to find a way out (buses, ferries, cars). Empty buses were allowed to leave the island without passengers and many cars had only one person. What if all these people trying to leave were also panicking from some sort of terrorist attack?
Jose Raul Padron, United States

The power failure is quite unfortunate in a country like US. However it is part of our life in a country like Bangladesh.
Mannan, Bangladesh

I have developed a newfound appreciation for power
Alistair Philip, UK
I am currently in New York right now and was working downtown. Since the blackout I have developed a newfound appreciation for power. No elevators, no metro, no traffic lights, no air conditioning and no cold beer, results in one sweaty man.
Alistair Philip, UK

I work in an ice cream place in a local mall here in Buffalo, NY. It was hot today and we were doing good business but then power failure occurred and now all of the ice cream stock is at the risk of being melted if the power supply is not fixed soon.
Enam, USA.

I live in Toronto, and we lost our power for a good seven hours. It was actually a really good occasion to go to a bar and meet people - it makes for the perfect line!
Hugh, Canada

I live in Ithaca, New York - a town which lies 350 miles from New York - roughly between New York City and Toronto. Our downtown is largely without power, there are flares rather than stoplights. There is some power on the outskirts of town (hence this message.) We're glad its not shaping up as terror.
Mark Zifchock, USA

As far as I know power has been off for most of Ontario, our cell phones and pagers have been shut down as well, several gas stations in the city have locked down their doors and left for the day. I hope it's back to business tomorrow.
Nabeel Ahmed, Toronto, Canada

Business is affected by this strange blackout even if Montreal has not been hit by it. Our teams in Ottawa and Toronto were sent home and thus the work is slowed down.
K. Rimane, Montreal

You would think that in this day and age that something like this wouldn't happen. Especially in America.
Josh Green, UK

I didn't even notice there was a power out! Didn't watch the news until later in the day. I guess the southern states were a little lucky!
Chong Shin, Baltimore, Maryland, USA





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