Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Remembering the Blackout of 2003
It's been ten years today since the blackout of 2003 ... hydro suddenly went out for about 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states. At the time, it was the second most widespread blackout in history. The blackout's primary cause was a software bug in the alarm system at a control room of the FirstEnergy Corporation in Ohio.
It happened just after 4pm. I was working downtown at the time and I tried calling Gord right away to see if hydro was out where he was working but the phones weren't working. I waited for a while for it to come back on but it didn't. My car was parked downstairs in the underground parking but I couldn't get at it so I walked home (only about a half hour walk). There was steady stream of people heading westward with me.
As it got darker and it was obvious the hydro wasn't coming on anytime soon, it drew our neighbours together ... and we got to know each other. We have a BBQ on our terrace connected to a gasline so we were able to eat and share a meal. Neighbours brought out beer and bottles of wine and we had a bit of a party. I lined our walkway area with candles for light. By the time it was pitch black, a couple neighbours were having fun playing Frisbee on the street with flashlights attached to their heads.
When we woke up the next day, our hydro was back on but it remained off for many for a few more days. Gord and I walked to my office building and picked up our car. To conserve power, for weeks office buildings had their lights turned down low ... and we were encouraged to work from home if we could (so I did).
So when I remember the blackout of 2003, I remember it fondly. How about you?