Most Americans aren’t phased when the lights go out. We grab flashlights and candles while we wait patiently for the power to come back on. When you live in a densely packed city where all the real estate is vertical, power is an absolute necessity. Even though the juice was only out a few hours, life for many New Yorker’s was seriously disrupted.
Imagine going in or out of your apartment when you live on the 17th floor and the elevator isn’t running. Worse, considering all the elevators in New York City, countless numbers of people were trapped between floors when the power went out. Subway trains are also electric powered, leaving riders stranded in dark tunnels.
An FDNY spokesman told reporters that firefighters “responded to people trapped in elevators and subway cars, and they are operating all over Manhattan’s West Side from streets in the 40s to the 60s.” The Metro Transit Authority advised people to “stay away from underground stations” and consider taking the bus.
At the worst point in the blackout, 72,000 customers were affected. As Governor Andrew Cuomo explained, it started with 20,000 around 6:47 p.m. then quickly spread as a chain of transformers “kept tripping” all across midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side.
An investigation is already planned to ferret out the “exact cause of the blackout,” which Cuomo called “unacceptable.”
Citizens without air conditioning took to the streets. Tourists were all over Times Square, shooting selfies with all the darkened billboards in the background. The theater district was in the heart of the blacked out area, so all the Broadway and off-Broadway shows were canceled. Cast members from “Come From Away” took the disaster in stride, performing outside on the sidewalk.
With traffic heavily affected by a lack of traffic lights, several volunteers began directing traffic. Lake Escobosa, a Brooklyn dancer, spent nearly an hour directing traffic near Lincoln Center. She learned how from her father, a former police officer.
“I know how tricky it is when it comes to that intersection and I just saw in my mind car accidents people getting hit, people screaming. So I felt like I should have just tried.”
— Sahid Abraham (@Sahid0) July 13, 2019
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— wilkssc (@wilkssc) July 13, 2019