Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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So all of DC is blackout right now. Or maybe not all. I have no official account. But a significant portion. I arrived at work super early this morning, so I was actually there when the lights went out. At first we thought it was just our building. Then we heard it was the whole block. And then we heard power was out at the White House, and then that the blackout stretched as far as Farragut and Dupont, possibly all the way up Mass Ave.

It was interesting to see the way information spread.

Immediately, people were whipping out their cell phones and blackberries, either calling friends or family who might be near a TV or trying to look up news on the Web. The lights went out around 7:15, and as of 8:30, there were still no accounts on Fox News, CNN, or NBC, according to my blackberry-wielding colleagues. Everyone seemed put off by this, as if 45 minutes was an interminable amount of time for the news sites to be slacking on coverage.

People who’d left their blackberries upstairs before the blackout (our building was on lockdown, so we weren’t allowed to go back and get our stuff) grumbled and fumbled about, lost. I had been mad texting friends in other parts of the city for accounts, so I was actually able to be an information spreader. One friend told me he was stuck on the red line in Dupont. He said a train was off the track. Then that three rails were down. Someone else told me Metro Center was on fire. They said a metro train had run into something, causing the outage. Then I heard that was wrong, a truck had run into a power generator. I ran into a friend on the street who lived nearby said generator, and he said, no, the generator had just exploded, there was no truck involved. I think I’m gonna post this before looking up what actually happened.

We were given the official announcement to go home around 8:40 a.m., and I walked over from 6th & E NW to 14th & I to catch a bus. Hoards of people were gathered in front of their office buildings. It was fun to overhear the snippets of conversation. Everyone was asking what was going on. Some were debating about whether or not to go home, whether the office would close. One lady was lamenting that she’d been in the middle of pilates when the lights went out and hadn’t had time to change, and was now forced to stand about with her office mates dressed entirely in spandex. Starbucks had it doors open, with signs announcing “no bathrooms” and “iced coffee ONLY” — there’s no shutting down Starbucks in this city, apparently. The traffic lights were out from the Metro Center area stretching up near Farragut. At half the stops I passed, no traffic cops had arrived yet, and the cars and pedestrians were left to navigate the intersections on their own. I was amazed at how well it seemed to be working out, everyone following some invisible, magical rules for when to stop and when to go. Only one irate and impatient bicycler messed it up.

My laptop battery is about to die, so I’m going to end abruptly. This post has very little point, really. Happy blackout day, everyone.

[The real story: http://dcist.com/2008/06/13/massive_power_outage_metro_fire.php]


Written by Elizabeth

June 13, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Posted in My Life, Story-Telling

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