The lights come back on in NYC; mayor vows to investigate

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jul 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-14 00:28:44-04

 (CNN) — All power has been restored in Manhattan after a partial blackout Saturday night caused problems for subway riders, tourists and even a Jennifer Lopez concert.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Twitter to say city agencies will investigate what caused the outage.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Twitter post on 7-13-2019

ConEdison restored electrical service on the west side of Manhattan after widespread power outages canceled shows and sent tens of thousands of people onto darkened streets. At its peak, there were about 72,000 without power, officials said.

Just before the lights and air conditioners began to come back on, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said more customers were losing power because transformers kept tripping.

There were no reports of injuries.

Shows canceled as people spill out onto the streets

The power outage sent people into intersections to direct traffic and brought at least one troupe from a canceled Broadway show out to perform for fans on a crowded sidewalk. Giddy tourists and locals pointed smart phones at darkened neon signs in Times Square and other places.

It also temporarily trapped people on trains and in elevators.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was returning to the city after a presidential campaign stop in Iowa, said it appears the outage was the result of a mechanical problem in the electrical grid.

“This appears to be something that just went wrong in the way that they transmit power from one part of the city to another,” he told CNN. “It sounds like it is addressable in a reasonable amount of time.”

ConEd CEO John McAvoy said the company is working to understand the cause of the outage and needs to do a full engineering analysis.

Transformer fires break out

The city’s fire department responded to numerous transformer fires and firefighters rescued people trapped in elevators and subway cars.

Several Broadway and off-Broadway shows said they were canceling performances, according to tweets aggregated by The Broadway League.

Firefighters also responded to people trapped in elevators and subway cars, and they are operating all over Manhattan’s West Side from streets in the 40s to the 60s, according to an FDNY spokesman.

Some of the cast from “Come From Away” came outside as people awaited news of whether the show would be called off.

The outage had a widespread effect on the New York subway system, which was experiencing power outages in its stations, the agency managing the trains said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority advised people to stay away from underground stations and consider taking the bus.

The lack of power was a major issue on the streets and in buildings, too.

A CNN producer on the Upper West Side said he was at a movie when the theater went dark about 7 p.m. He went outside and saw traffic and street lights were out. Traffic was jamming up in intersections but it wasn’t gridlocked, he said.

Twitter user Sahid Abraham posted a photo from Times Square that showed some of the famous electronic billboards dark.

Lake Escobosa, 23, a dancer living in Brooklyn, spent nearly an hour directing traffic. She marshaled cars, ambulances and pedestrians through a busy, three-way intersection near New York’s Lincoln Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

She said she learned her traffic directing skills from her father, a former police officer who walked the beat in Coney Island.

“I know how tricky it is when it comes to that intersection and I just saw in my mind car accidents people getting hit, people screaming,” she said. “So I felt like I should have just tried.”

On Columbus Avenue, outside Fordham University’s campus, the scope of the outage was becoming more apparent as daylight waned. There were very few lights in building windows and brightly lit food carts were some of the few sources of light beyond vehicle headlights.

The outages come 42 years to the day of an extensive blackout that affected much of the city.

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