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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Times Square Lights Are Out

Aired August 15, 2003 - 05:00   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: This is the 13th hour of the largest blackout in U.S. history. Here is what we're covering at this hour, the effort to restore power. Find out which areas are waking up in the dark this morning and where there is light. Plus both New York and New Jersey and the city of Cleveland have declared states of emergency. We'll have the latest on those situations.
And is Canada to blame for the huge power outage? The finger pointing has begun.

Good news this morning, though, is that power is gradually being restored. Crews are hard at work this morning in New York and in parts of New England, Ohio, Michigan and north into Canada. Lights are back on in parts of Manhattan, near Times Square, as well as in the northern Bronx. Here's a nighttime view of the city, pretty spectacular, even though it looks kind of dark this morning.

Well big challenges to power up more cities before morning rush hour. As we zoom in on these shaded areas along the East Coast, you see hard hit New York City and Stamford, Connecticut where shoreline towns along there are -- they are also without power this morning. As we pan west, you see the shaded areas around the Great Lakes that are affected, Detroit, Michigan, Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania all taking a huge hit from the blackout.

Our correspondents are spread out across this hugely affected area. Let's go to Times Square, America's Crossroads, sun isn't up yet, but our Gary Tuchman is.

Gary, the lights are starting to come back on there?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, you're right, good morning to you. And 45 minutes ago, we started seeing the lights returning to the island of Manhattan for the first time since they went out 12 hours ago.

We're in Times Square, which is the brightest part of the biggest city in America, the lights are not on here yet. But just five blocks to our north, at about 4:15 Eastern Time, we were just staring straight ahead and the lights started popping on. You can see the Wellington sign. That's a hotel. That sign wasn't on until 4:15 Eastern Time. And you can see the yellow street lights in the horizon.

We are told now that much of the northern part of Manhattan has its lights back hours before much of the Bronx, which is also part of New York City, had its lights back. And we actually flew in to Newark Airport tonight and the Newark, New Jersey area had its lights back for hours. So much of the surrounding area now has its lights back.

But the part of Manhattan we're in, Times Square, and you can take a look at Times Square. This is what you are familiar with on New Year's Eve. It's where you see the ball drop, where you see the crowds. No lights for the last 12 hours this sign. And it's very strange being in here. It's just as noisy as ever, but it's very strange seeing it so dark.

And all throughout Manhattan, thousands of people in the streets, in the sidewalks, inside Penn Station, one of the train stations, Grand Central Station, the Port Authority bus terminal, thousands of people inside the terminals, outside the terminals, sleeping. Normally in New York City when you see people sleeping on the streets, you assume they are a bum, you assume they are drunk, but today it's people who just haven't been able to figure out how to get home.

The good news about all this here in New York City, compared to 1977, the last major blackout when there was looting, when there was a lot of crime, a lot of fear in the streets, it has been very, very quiet in New York, very good news indeed.

Carol, back to you.

COSTELLO: Yes, I wanted to ask you a question about the subway, because we understand even if the subway is up and running later this morning, it will not run. Do you know anything about that?

TUCHMAN: We are told, Carol, that it will be six to eight hours after all the power in New York City is turned back on that they can get the subway running. So they've already said there will be no subway for the Friday morning rush hour. They are also saying hey, don't come in for the rush hour, play hooky, stay home.

COSTELLO: You know nobody's computer is working anyway, so how much work can you get done in New York City today?

TUCHMAN: That's exactly right.

COSTELLO: Or anywhere else.

Gary Tuchman, live in Times Square, many thanks.

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