You and your significant other are home alone. Candles are lit. Soft music is playing in the background. You get into bed as things heat up. As you get ready to seal the deal, you reach over and turn out the light.
This is when having the lights out is a positive thing. But at 4:10 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14, people along the east coast as far north as Toronto, as south as central New Jersey and as west as Detroit were involuntarily subjected to blackouts.
Meghan Gandy, senior history major, had just gotten onto a subway in New York City, on her way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, when the power went out.
“It was very strange,” Gandy said. “Everyone was so calm and organized. At first we thought it was just on the train. We thought it was just inconvenient.” After learning from the conductor that the entire city had no power, Gandy decided to make her way to Penn Station.
“There were just masses of people in the street,” she said. “There was a fair amount of cars trying to get around. Random people were conducting traffic.”
When she learned N.J. Transit trains were not running out of the city, she joined the hundreds of people sitting on the post office steps. Two hours later, however, she overheard a man informing someone else that one train would soon be running to Trenton and managed to get aboard. Gandy said she considers herself fortunate. Not many people knew about the train, she said, so it was mostly empty.
Although she is thankful for her good fortune, Gandy wishes she could have been in the city at night. “It would have been interesting to see when it got really dark,” she said.
April Drumm, freshman psychology major, did not lose power while she was working in the CVS pharmacy in Shipbottom, but she did feel the effects of the blackout.
People came in requesting to buy potassium iodide pills, Drumm said, which are used to protect the thyroid gland from radiation. The customers, who live near the Lacey Township Nuclear Reactor, feared the power outage was caused by a terrorist attack and wanted anything they could get to protect themselves from possible bio-terrorism.
“Some dude came in and bought like 12 boxes,” Drumm said.
Some tried to make the best of having no power by enjoying outside activities. As Anish Doshi, freshman biology major, drove into his hometown of Fair Lawn and noticed all of the lights out, he decided to and go play some basketball. Instead he found himself on the scene of an accident.
Doshi didn’t think much of the police officers directing cars in the surrounding streets with the absence of traffic lights, but when multiple police cars suddenly pulled just next to the basketball court, he became concerned.
“We ran to see what happened and all we saw was a scooter, then a kid,” he said. A driver had disregarded the officer’s directions, Doshi said, and had hit an 8-year-old boy, breaking the boy’s leg. “It was bloody,” he said. “The kid went up and over the car.”
Jessica Rebisz, junior nursing major, had no power in her Butler home for 10 hours. While she waited for her mother to return from work, she tried to contact her cousin who was stuck in the city and was forced to sleep on the steps of the Port Authority Police Department.
Rebisz obtained some news about the blackout as intermittent spurts of power allowed her to catch reports on the television. Though she immediately thought it was a terrorist attack, she didn’t panic. “I figured after Sept. 11, it couldn’t get much worse,” Rebisz said.
Whether students were at home, in the city or witnessing accidents, almost all will remember what they did on the day of the worst blackout in American history.