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Blackout is Worst in New York Since 1965
VOA News
15 Aug 2003, 10:48 UTC

The blackout in the northeastern United States and Canada is the first major power grid failure to hit the region in 38 years, and the first to darken New York City since 1977.

Electricity went out in New York City Thursday nearly 26 years to the day from the metropolitan area's last experienced a massive power outage, on August 13, 1977. That lengthy blackout sparked rioting and looting that cost about $100 million. Police made thousands of arrests.

By contrast, a power failure in November 1965 that became known as "the great Northeast blackout" is remembered for the spirit of cooperation displayed by most of those who were affected - more than 30 million people in New York, New Jersey, New England, Pennsylvania and Canada's Ontario province, who were in the dark for more than 12 hours.

Early indications are that the blackout of 2003 was marked by a convivial, almost party-like atmosphere in New York. People in the nation's most populous city relaxed once they heard government officials say there was no terrorist link to the power outage.

As dawn broke Friday, New York police said the number of burglaries and other crimes committed overnight appeared to be much lower than usual.

One of the most costly power failures ever in the United States was in January 1998, when ice storms brought down high voltage electricity cables serving three million people in northeastern parts of the United States and Canada. The damage was so extensive that it took one month to restore full service.