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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Ohio Officials Hope to Restore Power by Morning

Aired August 15, 2003 - 05:17   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Power crews still struggling this morning to end the nation's biggest blackout in history. They are trying to restore power to New York, parts of New England, Ohio, Michigan and north into Canada. Many New Yorkers never made it home last night. Some slept in the streets. A short time ago, power did come back on in parts of Manhattan and in parts of Times Square. We'll keep you posted there.
And some lights are starting to come on in downtown Cleveland as well. Utility officials are hoping to get most of the power in Ohio restored by this morning.

So let's go live to Cleveland and reporter Scott MacFarland of CNN affiliate WOIO.

Good morning.

SCOTT MACFARLAND, WOIO-TV REPORTER: Good morning to you, Carol.

Seven hundred thousand customers without power at one point last night, about half are now back on-line. But Cleveland is a city with very baggy eyes right now. No power, meaning no air conditioning and no water all night. Those who did sleep didn't sleep well and didn't sleep long.

We're at the Titiman (ph) Road substation. Crews here all night. They've worked on the substation lines all night. There is some juice flowing.

Follow me, if you can. We're going to make a move over to this plaza along Titiman Road, one of the suburban roads on the perimeter of Cleveland. You can see some of the plaza stores, the Panera Bread, the Key Bank are back up and running.

There is some street lighting, too. If you came around here at about 11:00 you wouldn't have seen any street lighting. Even the city center of Cleveland, downtown Cleveland, was as dark, Carol, as a deep forest deep in the night. Downtown Cleveland is lit up again, much of it on generator power. Jacobs Field, the ballpark in town, is lit up in part to give lighting to those who live downtown. It is a brightly lit field. They thought that might be a good technique to get everybody back in the light this morning.

At about 5:00 this morning, we got a report that half of the customers, half of those 700,000, are back on-line. But our latest report says it will be later this evening until the final customers are finally back on-line. COSTELLO: Yes, that's probably more likley. Let's talk about the water situation there because we understand that could get really serious.

MACFARLAND: That's the more dire situation. No running water for many, if not all, of the 1.5 million. I'll repeat it, 1.5 million customers in the Cleveland area. The thing is electricity distributes the water. With electricity gone, the distribution system is gone, so all these customers are dry still.

The water system so bad in fact, Cleveland's mayor is declaring a state of emergency in the city. There's also one county wide in Cuyahoga County. Without water, the mayor now asking people to conserve water. And if there is some coming out of the pipes, be sure to boil it before drinking it.

COSTELLO: Yes, and the other this is it's not like you can just go to a store to buy bottled water, because since the electricity is down, the cash registered aren't working in many grocery stores.

MACFARLAND: Yes, there was a mad rush on bottled water in downtown Cleveland stores. We hit a few gas stations at about 3:00 this morning. Those who were operating under generator power sold out very quickly. People buying whatever they could, not just water wise, grocery wise, Carol. I saw one man buy a box of Junior Mints. The Junior Mints fell out of the box. They were so melted and consoldiated together. He says I got to eat something.

COSTELLO: Junior Mints, though, I guess that's...

MACFARLAND: They are tasting and refreshing though.

COSTELLO: Well that's true, that's very true, but not a great substitute for a big juicy steak or something like that.

Scott MacFarland, many thanks to you for joining us live this morning on DAYBREAK from Cleveland, Ohio.

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