Northeast Blackout – HISTORY

A major blackout cut power in the eastern United States and parts of Canada on August 14, 2003. As of 4:10 pm ET, 21 power plants were shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people have been affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Although power companies were able to resume some services in as little as two hours, electricity was cut elsewhere for more than a day. The blackout shut down trains and elevators and disrupted everything from cell phone service to hospital operations to traffic at airports. In New York City, it took more than two hours for passengers to be evacuated from stranded subway trains. Small business owners have been affected by the loss of expensive refrigerated inventory. The loss of use of electric water pumps has interrupted water service in many areas. There have even been reports of people stranded halfway on roller coasters of theme parks. On the New York Stock Exchange and bond market, however, trading was able to continue thanks to back-up generators.

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