NEW YORK – The power may be back on in the Northeastern and Midwestern states affected by Blackout 2003, but the folks who experienced it are just getting started with swapping their stories
At the Marriott Marquis in New York City, hundreds of tourists who thought they had a bed for the night were forced to sleep on the sidewalks, because the hotel did not have a generator to power the electronic room keys.
"We're from California, so we're not strangers to power outages, but nothing like this," said Laurie Couto, 41, who was visiting from San Jose, Calif. "This is phenomenal."
Many New Yorkers had fun cleaning out their refrigerators, diving into pints of ice cream that would otherwise melt and throwing impromptu barbecues to get rid of meat sure to spoil.
Construction worker Donald Bellamy said he had a sleepless night without air conditioning while his neighbors were "partying like crazy."
Only 11 years old, Laura Evans was just one of hundreds of New Yorkers who were trapped in elevators when the power shut off.
Laura, who's called LuLu, was alone inside her apartment building elevator in Manhattan when it stopped and went dark. The girl said neighbors she didn't even know started talking to her through the doors to keep her calm and had her tap on the metal so they could pinpoint her location.
In Sudbury, Ontario, 100 miners were trapped underground because of the massive power outage. Local authorities said the crew was not in danger, and was waiting in underground lunchrooms at the nickel mine where they work.
In some parts of New York City, the power was restored Friday morning, much to the delight of shop owners like Chang Lim. "I'm really happy to see the lights back on," he said. Chim, who manages a deli, estimated that he had to throw out about $2,000 worth of yogurt, milk and ice cream.
Standing on a street corner in Midtown Manhattan, Mike Ineson, a desktop technician, said he hoped he would be able to get to his home in West Haven, Conn., later Friday after spending the night wandering around the lobby of his midtown Manhattan office building.
"I'm just waiting for power to come on," said Ineson, adding that he was also hoping "the coffee wagon comes because I need a cup."
Amanda Moore, a researcher, was on a Fifth Avenue bus at 6 a.m., heading toward Grand Central Terminal with hopes of returning home to Bronxville.
"I told the doorman I may be back," Moore said. She spent the night at a friend's 11th-floor apartment, where the water pressure did not travel high enough and she had to walk down 11 flights to use a lobby restroom.
Michelle Johnson, 17, walked 20 blocks, and then waited "forever" in midtown Manhattan for a bus to take her home to the Bronx.
After working at a downtown department store, she spent the night on a couch in the lobby of a Marriott hotel. She didn't know when she would be called back to work. "I was supposed to get paid today," she said.
Nurse Jayne Cranmer worked from midnight to 8 a.m. at a Parma nursing home in Cleveland, giving residents medication and taking temperatures by the light of a flashlight.
"We had a lot of the residents in bed by dark," Cranmer said. "Most of the residents were calm. Some of the confused residents were agitated."
Stylists at Creative Cuts in suburban Cleveland boiled water for shampoos. "We figured this would help them feel better," said nail technician Becki Hovan.
Residents in suburban Cleveland Heights, Ohio, were feeling relieved Friday morning after the water and electricity came back.
Randy Rains, 37, said it was a night to remember, and many people in the Covingtry neighborhood where he lives seemed to enjoy it, hanging out outside or on a porch.
In downtown Cleveland Friday morning, attorney Lori Zocolo went to the office.
"I have no water and no lights so I might as well come to work," said Zocolo, who arrived at her downtown Cleveland office at 5:30 a.m. wearing a T-shirt and shorts. She carried a business suit under one arm and said she hadn't been able to brush her teeth.
Kenny Platt, a postal carrier who lives in Lake Carmel, N.Y., said his new, well-equipped minivan saved the day for his family.
"The kids piled in, turned on the air conditioner, turned on the DVD and watched 'Batman,"' he said. "They were as happy as could be."
In the southern Connecticut town of Haddam, Jeannine and Kevin Wiese discovered a new way to heat bottles for their 9-month-old baby: on the grill. Joanne Margnelli read gardening magazines by the light of lanterns. "And I've been enjoying quite a few cold beers," she said.
And Michael Kelly of Virginia Beach, Va., found beauty in the blackout far from home.
"It's weird to see half the buildings on," Kelly said as he gazed at the Cleveland skyline at 5 a.m. Friday. "It was actually pretty neat. I will always remember where I was when the lights went out."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.