Thursday, August 14, 2003


[From local broadcast TV and radio stations.] At approximately 4:30pm EDT, an electrical blackout occurred in the greater Cleveland area (my location). An estimated 600,000 people have been affected. Cedar Point Amusement Park has been reported closed. It's reported that the blackout included portions of Canada, including Toronto and Ottawa, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, along with Ohio and Michigan.

Area fire departments, police and hospitals were placed on emergency status to be prepared for all eventualities. No major problems have emerged.

Power returned to my area at 6:00pm EDT. Slowly, other areas around Cleveland saw power return. As of 7:00pm EDT, Parma, Chardon, Geneva, and Madison have power returned.

Broadcasts have repeatedly emphasized that this is not terror related.

[Update at 7:30pm] Mansfield and Oberlin have power. Broadcast TV Cleveland Channel 8 is reporting that the blackout caused by a lightning strike in the Niagara Falls area. It's also being reported that Canadian Prime Minister Chretien has emphasized it was a lightning strike in the United States.

[Update at 8:05pm] Cleveland still without power, streets virtually empty, parking lots empty, Tower City deserted. City described as eerie.

No more flights from Cleveland Hopkins tonight, stranding many passengers. Some flights allowed to land. Due to lack of pumping power, the city has declared water emergency and has instructed residents to conserve.

Mayfield Heights, Hinckley, Leroy, Willoughby, and Wickliffe now have power restored.

Cleveland Mayor Campbell has instituted a curfew for the city for all people under the age of 18. No one that age allowed after 9:30pm until daylight tomorrow.

[Update at 8:23pm] Clarification . . . curfew is for all aged 18 and under. Reporters stating this is the "worst blackout in history." Richmond Heights, Highland Heights, and Oakwood have their power restored.

[Update at 8:35pm] Water emergency has prompted Mayor Campbell to ask the State of Ohio for help. Some locations are reporting they are hours away from totally running out of water.

[Update at 8:45pm] Police are being dispatched to neighborhoods to make sure that fire hydrants are not opened to beat the heat. Mayor warns residents not to use candles due to fire hazard. Hospitals are accepting only critical emergency patients. Corridors and administrative areas are dark. Thompson and Fairlawn have power restored.

[Update at 9:00pm] Air traffic controllers at Hopkins have power but runways will need to use emergency lights to land several incoming flights that must land at Cleveland. Airlines providing cots and sleeping bags for stranded passengers.

Reenergization of the electrical grid is underway slowly to make sure an unwanted surge doesn't cause additional breakers to trip. Few gas stations have working pumps. Power on in Beachwood. The President of the United States is at a press conference right now.

[Update at 9:19pm] It's being explained that the city of Cleveland has four main water supply pumps which are intended to act as backups for each other. Unfortunately, all four pumps are without power and the emergency generating system is not big enough to power the pumps (makes me wonder what the emergency system is supposed to do?).

No injuries at Cedar Point but some folks had to climb out of rides when they lost power. The Cleveland Indians are stranded in Minnesota. Reporter now says planes are grounded at Hopkins and four flights are scheduled to land. Food is being provided to the stranded passengers. People are sprawling all over the terminal.

Local weather reporter says that the radar indicates no storms in the Niagara area and a spokesman for the Niagara Mohawk Power Company is stating that they are unaware of any lightning. Niagara Mohawk has said they will hold a press conference at 9:30pm. The lightning report came from Canadian officials.

[Update at 9:25pm] An estimated 10% of 800,000 (new estimate) people have power restored. Painesville, Sheffield Lake and parts of Lorain now have power. Backup generator at Cleveland City Hall didn't work as expected. There are no street lights and no traffic lights and it's dark.

[Update at 9:45pm] Mayor Campbell just held a press conference and stated that Governor Taft has declared a state of emergency meaning that the National Guard and the Highway Patrol may be employed. She stated the eastern suburbs have already lost water and the western suburbs have 2 to 4 hours remaining in storage tanks.

Price gouging has been reported and the mayor says these instances will be investigated. Call 664-2220 to report.

The county jail is powered as is all of the Justice Center. Prisoners in other jails are being taken to Mansfield prison to ward off the potential for riots due to unrest caused by the loss of power. The city is talking to First Energy and Cleveland Public Power to get temporary power to the water pumping stations. Should know something by 11pm. Home Depot has been delivering fans to hospitals which is helping.

[Update at 9:53pm] New York Governor Pataki says the cause of the blackout was not a lighning strike.

[Update at 10:34pm] Experts say there is no possible way the blackout was caused by a lightning strike. I wonder why the Canadians think otherwise.

[Update at 11:30pm] Mayor Campbell press briefing: First Energy may have some power restored later tonight.

Downtown area of Cleveland will be closed until noon tomorrow.

State has dispatched seventeen National Guard water trucks to Cleveland and locations for distribution are being evaluated. Advisement: If water was lost, boil for three minutes after restoration.

200 additional firemen have been mobilized and 12 Fire Department water tankers have been requested. A general callup of policemen has been done and police are on 12-hour shifts.

[Update at 12:10am, 8/15/03] Niagara Mohawk Power Company has issued a strong statement refuting the Canadian officials' contention that the cause of the blackout was lightning at Niagara Falls generating plant. According to this story, it seems that the Canadians aren't sure what they want us to believe.
Canada's government offered conflicting explanations for the blackout, blaming it first on lightning in Niagara, then a fire at a Niagara plant, and next a fire at a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant.

Local news has just completed and turned back to the networks.

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