20 years since the 2003 blackout

August 14, 2023, marks 20 years since the lights went out in the "city that never sleeps." 

It was shortly after four o'clock in the afternoon on a hot August day when in an instant, the city was powerless.

The blackout hit eight states and Canada, impacting more than 50 million people. 

Millions spilled out onto the sidewalks and streets, trying to get home.

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The blackout lasted about 30 hours in New York, which shut down the subway system, gas pumps, traffic lights, elevators, and more.

The fear was that it was terrorism.

"First stimulation was a terrorist attack. After 9/11, everyone thinks of that," a man said.

FOX 5 New York's Linda Schmidt was anchoring that day.

The FDNY rescued many who got stuck in elevators.

That night, the city was plunged into darkness. 

The only lights were headlights from cars and buses.  People walked home using flashlights, if they were lucky enough to have them.

It took up to four days for the power to get restored in some areas.

The cause of the blackout as an overloaded power line that was hit a tree branch in Ohio and the utility company did not detect it.  

Within minutes, it created one of the largest blackouts in history.