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Northeast Blackout of 2003 by Rosemary McKinley

We were here in Southold ready to go to Cedar Beach and there was no electricity. We thought we blew a breaker. A few minutes later, our neighbor stood, at our front door, knocking. “Do you have your lights?” “No, we thought it was just our house. Come on in.” “I live across the street. I’m Mark.” “Yes, Nice to meet you.” My husband walked in; “I’m Pete.” “I’ll call LILCO on my landline.” “Sure enough, we are all out.” That’s when we decided not to open the refrigerator too much. We called out daughter on her cell and then our son. No answer. We decided to go to the beach, anyway. We could cook on the grill If we needed to later. When we returned, there was still no electricity, so we cooked hamburgers on the grill and added a salad. After dinner, we took a walk and I found a $5 bill, so we decided to drive our convertible out to Greenport and buy ice cream cones. On the way, the police had set up a roadblock to check on seatbelts. We were on a long line there because drivers were waiting in their cars for gas at the one station on Rt 25. Parts of Greenport provide their own power and the gas station was working. No others on Long Island except for Rockville Center were open, also off the grid. Because of the line of cars, we decided the ice cream could wait and we turned around and came back home. No power but we took our solar lawn lamps in the house for light along with our trusty flashlights and a few candles. The next morning, we still had no power, but our phone rang. Our son, who lives in Westchester had no power also. That’s when we listened to our car radio for a short time and realized that the whole northeast was affected. We heard from our daughter hours later and what a tale she told us. Early before the blackout, she was on a train from Manhattan to Long Island to meet up with one of her friends. Abruptly, the train stopped, and the passengers were told to stay put. She didn’t know at the time, that is when the power cut out on the grid. She was becoming claustrophobic and felt she had to get off the train. Being that it was summer, she had on a skirt with shorts underneath. She removed her skirt and climbed out of the window of the train with a stranger, Sari, who had the same idea. As she was walking in Queens toward the station, her girlfriend, who she was supposed to meet miraculously spotted her. Jenn stopped her car and our daughter and Sari jumped in. They drove to Bethpage. In the car, they learned that the woman lived in a nearby town, so they dropped her off at her house! Within an hour, our daughter was home. She called and said she wanted to drive out to Southold. Little traffic and the traffic lights weren’t working that day. We were joking when we saw our daughter. She said she was one lucky girl to meet up with her friend. We countered that the stranger who just happened to leave the train with her was the luckiest!

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