Friday, August 14, 2009

Where were you when the lights went out? - 2003

Where were you when the lights went out on August 14, 2003?

On August 14, 2003 about 55 million people in Northeastern United States and most of Ontario lost electrical power, some for more than twenty-four hours. It was about 4:40 Eastern. I had finished my supper as I was working 1 to 9 and was heading back into the library to cover the reference desk for the evening. I didn't know that it was wide-spread until I reached the library and discovered they were closing up. The custodian had heard on the radio that the power outage appeared to be widespread and it might be awhile before it was restored.

So back home I went. It was a beautiful evening so I went outside on the deck and read as long as I could see. In Toronto and other localities, people had impromptu gatherings and visited with neighbours.

Earlier that day, the window installer had just finished the work on my new bow window. I was happy that work had been completed.

I was a fortunate one and I had power restored before I went to sleep. Others were not so lucky.

Power was back on in most of Owen Sound, so it was back to work the next morning. We were advised by the city management to use as little electricity as possible as the power situation was still precarious. We turned on only those lights and computers that were necessary for people to work efficiently and safely. The computers at the reference desks and the circulation desk were needed but we were prepared to hand check out materials if we lost power.

We provided no public access to the computers. I remember one woman in particular who was very angry about this, but most were very understanding. We directed those who needed Internet access to go to a local "Internet Cafe" in a downtown business. We were on limited service for the rest of the week.

Every time, we have a major electrical power outage that lasts more than an hour, I get to thinking of my ancestors who had no electrical power at all to do their daily tasks. How did they manage? What did they do?

Today, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. is the Count me in Energy Challenge. I am going to try my best to limit my energy usage as best I can.

© 2009 Janet Iles


  1. We were living in Akron, NY at that time and therefore very lucky. Being so close to the Niagara Falls power plants we were only without power for about an hour. My family in Syracuse waited several days I think.

  2. Thanks Apple for sharing where you were. With all the publicity re saving energy and the special challenge for August 14, we are reminded in Ontario but that date.


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