Summary: When this power failure hit the North East, Midwest, and Canada it was catastrophic. When we have power failure in our Christian lives; it can also be catastrophic

August 17, 2003

Title: Power Failure

Text: Mark 9:14-29, Mark 6:45-51, Matthew 14:23-33


From the Ocala Star Banner: The largest power blackout in U.S. history rolled across a vast swath of the northern United States as well as southern Canada on Thursday, driving millions of people outdoors into stifling rush hour streets — then darkness. New Yorkers escaped silenced subways. Nuclear power plants in four states shut down.

The blackouts started shortly after 4 p.m. EDT, engulfing most of New York state and nearby parts of New England, and spreading west to Ohio and Michigan. In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, workers fled their buildings when the power went off. There also were widespread outages in Ottawa, the capital.

Outages ranged over an area with roughly 50 million people.

New Yorkers scrambled down endless stairways in skyscrapers where elevators stopped working, and some subway commuters were stuck for several hours underground. In the city that took the brunt of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, people filed into the streets with little fuss and looked for ways to get home.

‘‘I’m trying to keep calm,’’ said Aaron David, 27, who works at the United Nations. ‘‘But I was here for 9-11. This doesn’t happen every day.’’

Traffic lights were out throughout downtown Cleveland and other major cities, creating havoc at the beginning of rush hour. Cleveland officials said that without the power needed to pump water to 1.5 million people, water reserves were running low.

New York state lost 80 percent of its power, said Matthew Melewski, speaking for the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state power grid. Both New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency.

As darkness fell, city dwellers turned to candles and flashlights as scattered parts of the electrical grid came back on. Marveled another man, ‘‘You can actually see the stars in New York City.’’

There were outages in several Vermont towns and in northern New Jersey, where Gov. James E. McGreevey mobilized 700 National Guardsman and ordered 300 extra state troopers on duty. In Connecticut, Metro-North Railroad service was knocked out. Lights flickered at state government buildings in Hartford.

Broadway shut down. Night baseball, too.

In San Diego, Bush said ‘‘slowly but surely we’re coping with this massive, national problem,’’ and added that he would order a review of ‘‘why the cascade was so significant.’’

Bush said he suspected that the nation’s electrical grid would need to be modernized.

In Albany, N.Y., several people were trapped in elevators in Empire State Plaza, but most had been freed by 5 p.m. People in New York City lined up 10 deep or more at pay phones, with cell phone service disrupted in some areas. Times Square went dark

In Cleveland, Olga Kropko, a University Hospitals labor and delivery nurse, said the hospital was using its backup generators and had limited power. ‘‘Everyone is very hot because the air conditioning is off,’’ she said. ‘‘Our laboring moms are suffering.’’

John Meehan, 56, walked down 37 stories in the BP Tower in downtown Cleveland, wearing his suit and carrying a briefcase. ‘‘It makes you wonder, was this terrorism or what?’’ he asked.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department both said the outages appeared to be a natural occurrence and not the result of terrorism.

Police in Mansfield, Ohio, spread into the streets to keep traffic flowing. ‘‘A lot of officers are out there trying to make sure nobody gets hurt, to try to cut down on the accidents,’’ said jail officer Randi Allen.

As for the cause, he said: ‘‘It was probably a natural occurrence which disrupted the power system up there and it apparently for reasons we don’t know cascaded down through New York state over into Connecticut, as far south as New Jersey and as far west as Ohio.’’

Nine nuclear power reactors — six in New York and one each in New Jersey, Ohio and Michigan — reported they were shut down because of the loss of offsite power, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Bethesda, Md.

The blackout set off security precautions developed after the World Trade Center attack, with heavily armed teams of counterterror officers deploying at New York City landmarks and other sensitive locations.

Officials swiftly realized the outage was not an act of terror and then used teams to make sure no one took advantage of the blackout to strike at a terror target, officials said.

Flights at six airports — Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark, Cleveland, Toronto and Ottawa — were grounded, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

I’ve never seen a power failure quite like that.

We lost power in an ice storm for a couple days when we lived in Anderson, IN. ,

And I’ve lost power when I was right in the middle of writing a sermon on the computer, causing me to lose everything I had typed.

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