Some might be tempted to dismiss loss of power as a first-world problem.
But the 2003 blackout that hit the Northeast affected 50 million people across eight states and Canada.
The economy lost $10 billion and 11 people lost their lives.
At the time it was the second worst blackout ever after the 1999 disaster in Brazil.
After New Yorkers were assured it wasn't terrorism-related (this was two years after 9/11), they poured into the streets.
Times Square went dark.
People drank all the beer.
All of it.
Gas prices shot up. Wait, what the hell? 2003 was like a free gas utopia.
It was really hot inside so some people slept outside.
OK, a lot of people slept outside.
This pioneer watched TV by connecting it to his cigarette lighter.
This ice cream vendor gave away free ice cream because he's a real-life angel.
New York sort of looked like Gotham.
Gritty and dark but hotter and stickier.
Due to $4.5 billion in federal stimulus money allocated toward the construction of a smart grid, utilities have been able to add hundreds of advanced grid sensors and millions of smart electrical meters.
This has helped power companies keep near real-time tabs on the state of the grid.
Now experts say the grid isn't invulnerable to failure, but it's much improved.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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