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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Lights Begin To Come On Sporadically In New York City

Aired August 14, 2003 - 20:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And, John, I'd like to just add a little bit of information that's just coming in as you were conducting that interview. We are getting word coming in from our reporters who are scattered around the New York area that power is beginning to pop back on in certain spots in a scattered pattern, hard to tell exactly how this is happening and where it's happening.
We're trying to get at least some evidence of that in some of the camera shots that we have of different points around the city. It's hard to tell right now whether or not we're seeing any lights coming on back in buildings or lights coming on on the streets.

However, we are getting word from our reporters out there that power is beginning to come back sporadically in parts of Manhattan at least, so we'll keep you updated on that situation.

Now, to reiterate what you've just heard John King mention, the latest word that we are getting here at CNN from Canadian officials is that this massive power outage is all the result of a lightning strike that hit a power plant near Niagara Falls and then triggered a cascading blackout.

U.S. power officials now say this outage is contained and what they call the arduous process of restoring systems is underway and we have gotten some confirmation of that from our reporters in New York City.

Now, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, said earlier that some areas in the region were already getting back to power earlier. He mentioned areas to the west and the north. He also predicted that tomorrow would be business as usual in New York City.

Thousands of people poured into the street this afternoon when the power went out, many of them still making the long walk home. People with less luck were trapped in elevators or subways for a time.

And there as you see our first confirmation by camera of lights on in New York City. We believe this - hard to tell right now at this particular point if this is the product of backup generators that may be coming online finally or if this is the general power grid that is being put back online bit by bit in the region.

Let's go now to our Wolf Blitzer, though, who has probably got a better vantage point than I do and may be able to see some of these lights coming on -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're seeing some interesting developments here, Leon, in Manhattan. Certainly it's still dark all over the place, getting darker obviously all the time no lights except, except in some buildings where they have their emergency generators that are bringing some sort of light.

I'm hearing some helicopters flying overhead. You might be hearing that as well. If you look behind me you won't see much. There were several fire engines. A few of them are still there. They're cleaning up. There was a small fire here.

We don't know what the cause of the fire was. There was some belief that perhaps a candle may have tipped over in a bedroom, caused this small fire, caused a lot of smoke reaffirming the need for everyone to be careful, especially now as it gets dark to be careful if they're using candles to make sure they use them properly and they don't allow those candles to get out of control. Obviously, it's a potentially significant development.

The local fire department, of course, police, emergency personnel, they're all working round the clock right now to make sure that this city does well during this kind of a situation. There's no doubt that New Yorkers are handling it, at least so far, quite well.

All the New Yorkers we've seen and we've walked big parts of the city, all of our reporters are reporting that people are handling it. They're dealing with it quite well. They're not getting agitated and they're not getting overly concerned.

But, as it gets darker here in New York and you can see it's getting darker we'll see what happens. So far the lights have not come back on anyplace near where I am right now.

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