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NYC Blackout; Con Edison Estimates 73,000 Customers Without Power; Mayor Bill de Blasio, Who Is Out On Campaign Trail, To Return To New York. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 22:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Theaters closed their doors. Con Edison estimates 51,000 customers are without power. The numbers are still climbing as they are working to restore service.

The Police Department is pointing to a manhole fire as the cause, and according to the Mayor, Bill de Blasio, no foul play is involved. However, it is worth noting we're just getting word the Mayor is returning to New York City from the campaign trail. He is currently in Iowa.

So for now, much a Manhattan on a hot Saturday night in July is in the dark. Let's go live to Polo Sandoval joining us from the streets where power is out.

Polo, fill us in on what's happening there now.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana when Mayor de Blasio returns on the campaign trail, he is going to find some of those 50,000 customers, basically in the streets here. Important to point out that it's already been several hours that people have been in the dark. So many of these people have to take to the streets, either on a motorcycle, or on foot and including some of the folks who have traveled here all the way from South Texas.

Hector and Denise, step right up here. I can't believe that we are running into each other. You are from my hometown of McAllen, Texas.

HECTOR: Correct, and we were walking by and we saw you.

SANDOVAL: So you're certainly going to find just about anybody here on the streets, Hector. Tell me a little bit about what it's been like for you and your daughter who is here celebrating her sweet 16. This is not what you expected when you came to the Big Apple for the first time from South Texas, is it?

HECTOR: Correct. It's been an amazing experience, though. We've enjoyed every minute here in New York. Unfortunately, lights did go out. But we're going to make the best of it. And we're going to go down for a walk as we were staying at the Sheraton and it was affected by the blackout. So we came down the street and ran into you.

SANDOVAL: I just spoke to some people that were staying in your hotel. They were like on the 25th - 26th floor, so there was no chance that they were going to be hiking up those stairs. For you, you said you were on the 14th floor?

HECTOR: We're on the 20th floor.

SANDOVAL: Twentieth floor.

HECTOR: Coming down was easy, but I'm pretty sure going back up is going to be really hard, so we're just going to stay down here until the lights come back on.

SANDOVAL: How about your phones? Do you have enough power just in case this goes a couple more hours?

HECTOR: Yes, luckily, I have my backup. So I do have power.

SANDOVAL: So what's next for you, Denise? You're celebrating your 16th birthday. The lights went out in New York just for you maybe. What happens next though? Is this kind of a story that you're going to get to tell your friends when you head back to Texas?

DENISE: Definitely. I'll have a lot of -- I'll have a lot of things to tell him about this. My first time being in New York also.

SANDOVAL: So you probably saw what this looks like, usually all lit up. I mean, pretty significant stark difference.


SANDOVAL: So Dad, what's next for you then? Depending on when power will come back or not, what are you going to do tonight?

HECTOR: Tonight, we're going to head back to the hotel and get some rest and tomorrow we'll go see a Yankee game against the Blue Jays. And then we'll do Ellis Island the day after that and enjoy the rest of the week here in New York.

SANDOVAL: I've been asked about the heat, right, back where we're from, the heat index would be 115 degrees. So this is nothing, but it's still a little warm?

HECTOR: Yes, it's a different type of heat over here. But we managed to get through it, but nothing like the valley heat. So it's tolerable.

SANDOVAL: You made it through 115, you'll make it through this, right? All right. Thank you so much, Hector and Denise. Best of luck. Happy birthday to you. Thanks so much for talking to us on CNN. Safe travels back home to the Rio Grande Valley.

Ana, again, and we mentioned this in the last hour, people are going to make the best of it. Yes, we're just a couple of blocks away from Times Square, a few blocks from Central Park. So we are getting to see and speak to a lot of tourists who say that, yes, this does kind of -- is some sort of a bump in the road for them and their vacation.

But we're also hearing from native New Yorkers who said, look, many of them have been through it in the 70s. They went through it in 2003. They're going to get through it again today.

CABRERA: And, Polo, it looks like traffic is continuing to flow in a rather orderly way, is that fair to say?

SANDOVAL: It is. I've seen officers at some intersections. We are still close enough to the part of Manhattan that still has power, that still has traffic lights moving, but you take a drive or walk just a couple of blocks west of where I'm standing and many of those lights are out. So that's where the NYPD and Traffic Control has their officers out there in full force, basically making sure that nobody gets hurt.

And I'll tell you this to you again, it really was impressive to see some local business owners and employees to take to the streets with fluorescent vests to direct traffic, taking things into their own hands to make sure that everybody stays safe. But ultimately though, obviously, the NYPD is stepping in to make sure that both pedestrians and drivers are staying safe right now.

CABRERA: OK, Polo Sandoval in New York City for us on the streets. Thank you. Important to note. The numbers continue to climb in terms of power outages and those who are affected.

We just got another update from Con Edison 61,000 customers, they're saying are now in the dark here in New York City and Manhattan. These aerials are provided by WABC over the city where you can see just how dark it is. We also have an update from Amtrak, of course, which operates a number of trains that come into New York's Penn Station and apparently New York's Penn Station is now operating off backup generators.

[22:05:13] CABRERA: They're tweeting "Trains," they say, "However, are not being affected at this time." We do know the subways. Those who use mass transit in that form are impacted.

In fact, there are very few subway lines still operating right now as again they worked to get a handle on this power outage. Mayor Bill de Blasio, he has been out on the campaign trail in Iowa. He now is returning to New York City to deal with this blackout power outages that are affecting again more than 61,000 customers at this point.

CNN's Brian Stelter joins us on the phone right now. Brian, what's your reaction to that? The mayor now returning to New York City?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I think a lot of New Yorkers are going to have something to say to de Blasio when he gets back. Obviously, a lot of Manhattanites not been having happy that he has been running for President in the first place.

But I'll leave the politics until tomorrow, Ana, and it's a story as a start. I just opened the door of my house to start to cover. I've been talking to my neighbors. I've been looking outside because I'm in this blackout zone.

And it is a very rare event to be able to see one of the country's biggest cities half out of power, a little bit reminiscent of the Superstorm Sandy blackout.

In that case, of course, that was a natural disaster. The southern half of the island was without power. In this case, it's the western half of Midtown that's lost power. So there's a dividing line, which is Fifth Avenue. And some people on the West Side are just walking over to the East Side for now.

There's of course, like my family, staying inside for now, just waiting for the power to come back. It is a kind of a quiet night, Ana, it's like just what you hear are sirens. We are hearing so a lot of fire trucks, ambulances responding to elevator outages and things like that.

For some people blackouts can be exciting news. Tourists who are excited to be here for it. I think for others, it can be very stressful. If you may not be in a very well health and you may be in poor health or you may need air conditioning for various reasons.

So we are hearing as I'm talking to you right now, I hear more fire trucks coming down the street that I live on, and in the windows nearby, I see people with candles, people with flashlights basically getting ready for a long night ahead.

CABRERA: OK, standby for us, Brian. I want to bring in New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo. Thank you, Governor for taking the time. First, what is the latest update you can tell us about this outage?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY) (via telephone): Pleasure to be with you, Ana. I think Brian's assessment was right on. Apparently, what only happened was -- Con Edison who is the utility provider for Manhattan had a substation malfunction. Fire, explosion, butt a substation malfunction, which then generated a surge of power that put out as many as five additional substations.

When one substation malfunctions, it's common that it sends a surge of power through the line. That surge can either burn the transmission line or can cause the next sequential substation to malfunction.

The more substations malfunction, the more -- the greater the power outage and now you're looking at an area of about 40th Street, maybe even down to 34th Street on the southern side to about 58th to 65th Streets from Broadway to the west side of Manhattan that's towards the Hudson River. But it is a very large area for Manhattan.

There's the personal inconvenience, obviously. There is an inconvenience and a possibility of a dangerous situation for senior citizens, people who are on medical equipment at home. The trains are also out. Luckily, we have no reports of anyone stuck in a train. The trains have all made it to the station and people are out. The traffic lights are out --

CABRERA: And when you talk about trains, are you talking about subways or are you talking about these other trains that Amtrak runs?

CUOMO: In that part of Manhattan, it's basically all subways.


CUOMO: And being stuck in the subway tunnel is obviously not a fun experience. But that our information is there's no one in the train. The traffic lights are out. I'm sending State Police and I've called up National Guard to help with any traffic control because these are very busy intersections and it can get chaotic very quickly. But it's a serious situation.

It's not just a personal inconvenience. New Yorkers have all been very well behaved. We expect this to be a short term situation. But if it is a long term situation and you know, power goes out. Police are busy doing other things.

[22:10:10] CUOMO: Alarms don't function et cetera, so it creates an opportunity for a certain amount of chaos, obviously, and I'll just leave it at that. We don't yet have a good estimate as to how long it should take to restore the power. They are still doing an assessment.

I have State Energy personnel with them. I am en route to the transformers to see the actual extent of the damage myself.

CABRERA: So, Governor, do you believe that this problem could still get worse before it gets better? Because we know that the numbers are still rising.

CUOMO: The numbers are rising because the transformer that malfunctioned caused the second to malfunction and caused the third to malfunction. Now we're at --

CABRERA: It's like a domino effect.

CUOMO: Yes. Now, that for tomorrow, the after action report, this system is supposed to be designed, Ana, to have breakers between the substations. For a substation to malfunction is not all that infrequent in the currents. They are supposed to be designed with breakers between the substations.

In other words, if one substation malfunctions and sends a surge, it's supposed to trip a breaker rather than burn a transmission line or damage another substation. So that's going to be an after action analysis that we're going to do because we shouldn't be in this situation.

CABRERA: Right. You put out a statement calling this unacceptable.

CUOMO: Well, look, I've handled a number of emergencies in this state. I used to be in the Federal government under the Clinton administration. I did Emergency Management all across the country. This is a predictable circumstance. Substations malfunction.

The system has to have safeguards designed into it. So one substation malfunction does not domino -- the usual word -- into other substations, which is apparently what has happened here, but we'll get to the after action after the action.

But first call of duty is public safety, traffic control. Additional law enforcement because it is harder to police a blacked out city, and we're doing that State Police, National Guard and New Yorkers have all taken it stride.

As Brian's comments suggested, New Yorkers have been accustomed to a lot and deal with a lot and so far, so good.

CABRERA: And we're also hearing from people that our Polo Sandoval is interviewing, who are tourists. They're not from New York, but they too seem to be taking this in stride and trying to soak up their unique New York experience.

I do want to get back to something you said about safety and this is important because we just got this now from the New York City Police Department. It's for people planning to drive in Manhattan during this blackout.

We know a lot of people are leaving their homes because of them being stuck in the dark, no air conditioning, and so I want to make sure everybody gets this information. It says, "Due to the power outage and disabled traffic control devices, vehicles should avoid West 42nd Street, West 74th Street, Fifth Avenue, 12th Avenue. Only MTA buses will be permitted in that area."

What is your message to people who may try to drive on dark streets in potentially very crowded streets?

CUOMO: Yes, but let's qualify what the NYPD are saying. We're going to have certain routes that will be for buses only to operate. But, Ana, no one should be driving through that area. Every intersection is chaotic.

Just picture an uncontrolled intersection with very high volume of traffic at night without enough personnel to man or person every intersection. It is chaotic. So you should not be driving in that area unless it's a true emergency.

Because all you need is a couple of traffic accidents in those intersections, and then you'll see the situation deteriorate even more. So I would urge people just not to drive through that area.

[22:15:03] CUOMO: If you're in the area and you need to leave your home. It's a several-block walk. It's basically Broadway West to the Hudson River, that's about mid-Manhattan, but walk several blocks get to the East Side of Manhattan and take public transportation or a cab or whatever, but you shouldn't be driving through the blacked out area.

CABRERA: OK, so that's important message. Now, just a short time ago, I spoke to Mayor Bill de Blasio. He is campaigning in Iowa. He now says he is returning to New York to deal with this emergency. Governor, how important is it that the Mayor be there personally?

CUOMO: Look, mayors are important and situations like this, come up, you know, and you have to be on site. I believe that I am Governor of New York, I have been for eight years, I can count the number of times I leave the state basically on my fingers. You know, job one is, when a situation like this happens, these

situations happen more and more frequently. We have tornadoes, we have storms, we have super storms, all sorts of natural disasters or emergencies come up all the time.

So I think it's important to be in a place where you can always respond. But look, everybody makes their own political judgment and I'm not going to second guess anyone either. I do my job the way I think I should do my job and I leave it to others to do the same.

CABRERA: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, we really appreciate you taking the time to give us all the latest information on this blackout situation. Again, parts of Manhattan, some 61,000-plus customers currently in the dark with Con Edison working to restore that power. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue our coverage of this blackout on the other side. Stay with us.


CABRERA: Breaking News. Con Edison now reporting some good news; 30,000 customers we're told are still affected by the New York City blackout which at one point affected more than 60,000 people. That was just before the break.

Now, Governor Andrew Cuomo who just spoke to told me he's going to ask the National Guard to help with traffic control. The concern obviously being the danger of drivers on dark streets. You see just how dark it is out there.

Right now, I want to bring in CNN's National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd, obviously, this is an issue. So many people in such a small area when we're talking about Manhattan. Good news is, it sounds like they may be starting to restore power. But when you hear National Guard that sounds serious.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we have to think about the different kinds of people impacted. We have the New York residents. Con Ed just said the power is going to be restored to tens of thousands more by midnight, that's positive.

But we have several thousand tourists that are currently in the city for a variety of reasons. I was just at the Jennifer Lopez concert. We were evacuated from Madison Square Garden and I heard many concert goers indicating that they were trapped in Manhattan, because Long Island Railroad and other forms of transportation were potentially down.

The National Guard can be deployed to help with traffic and safety issues. I just ran here on the street, Ana, and there's chaos, there are cars that are stopped on 7th and 8th Avenue. There are traffic lights that are still on. But the National Guard can help both the traffic flows within the city and then any additional vehicular traffic trying to exit Manhattan Island because perhaps other forms of transportation are down.

The immediate issue however, Ana, is much more serious. Because of the power outage. There's an immediate need to stabilize high risk individuals that could be hospitals, the elderly, people without air conditioning, and that's the immediate first step that I imagine first responders are looking into while dealing with the secondary issue of trying to get people around the city and out of the city as necessary.

CABRERA: In fact, when you when you talk about the hospital and people who are vulnerable, we spoke with the New York City Council Speaker here and he did mention one of the hospitals that he knew of that was already running on backup generators, and he said they didn't have air conditioning because of how they were dealing with it.

So that is a very serious concern. You talked about the J-Lo concert. We know that was at Madison Square Garden. Power went out there. I want to show the incredible moment where Jennifer Lopez was set to perform for the concert goers when that power went out. The lights you see on right now are the emergency lights. This was what that moment looked like for J-Lo.


JENNIFER LOPEZ, SINGER AND ACTRESS: Hi guys. So we're backstage. They just told me to get off stage. I was waiting there. Obviously, all the power went out in the city, and obviously here at Madison Square Garden while we were in the middle of our show. Actually, we have just started our show.

They're asking everybody to evacuate very slowly and calmly. And -- and that's what we're going to have to do. Obviously, we're going to reschedule this show.

There's the alarm going off telling everybody in the announcements to evacuate. I am obviously heartbroken and devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attention, attention. This is the building engineer.

LOPEZ: Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Due to a citywide power outage, we are going to interrupt this event. Thank you very much.

LOPEZ: I am very sad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the interest of safety and precautionary measure, we are asking that all occupants leave the building.

LOPEZ: We -- I love you. I am so sorry that this happened in the middle of our moment this time. I'm going to get back to you guys as soon as I can with when we're going to reschedule the show. OK.


CABRERA: OK, there you have it. J-Lo captioning that video saying, "The power is out in New York City and at MSG." Madison Square Garden. "Heartbroken to say tonight's show was canceled. We will reschedule. Love you all. Stay safe." Again, Sam, you were there? What was it like from your perspective at

that moment?

VINOGRAD: Well, there was confusion originally, but I will say that the Madison Square Garden security team handled this beyond professionally. There was an orderly evacuation from the building, but panic really started to ensue as young children were on the escalators which weren't working trying to get out to the street. And the backup generators did kick in.

But as we were exiting the building, all of the lights were off and that caused again a lot of the children to have concern and a lot of people that had traveled into the city for the concert to question how they were going to get home. If they could afford to pay for hotels overnight and really if they were stranded in Manhattan with no options.

[22:25:11] VINOGRAD: And there's also the concern, of course, that while things are dark, crime levels are higher. Governor Cuomo alluded to this in his remarks, I think he said that policing is more difficult in the dark, which is why he indicated that he's sending more law enforcement professionals immediately to the city to try to make sure that there's not more crime, while people are stranded on the island, and while the lights are off.

So security professionals are dealing with evacuating buildings, making sure high risk individuals have the emergency services that they need, and then trying to make sure again, that crime levels don't rise as a result of this issue while this critical infrastructure is being looked at Con Ed is working to try to get it back up and running.

CABRERA: He called this unacceptable fact that this could even happen. What's your take?

VINOGRAD: This is critical infrastructure in one of the largest cities in the world, it seems incredible that a power outage could happen like this, and affect tens of thousands of people and backup systems would not jump into action immediately.

Again, this is New York City. This isn't a small town in the middle of nowhere. And I think he took a jab at Mayor de Blasio for this. He had some harsh words for him, including the fact that Mayor de Blasio is out campaigning right now and is not in New York City. I think Governor Cuomo tried to be as diplomatic as he could be.

But this is going to be a real issue, I think for Mayor de Blasio why he could not guaranteed the provision of essential services in Manhattan if he is planning to run for President.

CABRERA: He is coming back he says to New York City tonight. I want to go back live now to CNN's Polo Sandoval. Thank you, Sam for being here with us.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Polo, you say the lights are coming back on.

SANDOVAL: Hey, Ana, it is kind of interesting here, because we did see a building where the lights went back on here just on 8th Avenue.

So it's a next Avenue over from what we're standing here on 7th and 51st. It's still unclear whether or not that would be potential generator power that's kicking in, unlikely but certainly possible. But that is seen as a good sign because I count at least two buildings that were dark for the last three hours that are now lit up.

And then if you look off in the distance here, this hotel, you're looking at the Manhattan at Time Square, one of when many hotels that you find on the region, you also see some light inside.

And then finally, I'm not sure if we might be able to perhaps go over to the building across the street, where you can also see at least one light that's on. That building was completely dark here not too long ago.

So this certainly could be some positive news, the positive news that many people have been waiting for, especially here in the middle of tourists ground zero or where there are millions of people that are wondering if they're actually going to be able to make it back to their hotel room, or if they're going to have to essentially hike up all those stairs if the elevators aren't working.

So again, it looks like the situation looks fairly promising. And this time that I've been talking to you, another building the light we're back on here in Midtown. So again, it looks like the situation is improving significantly for many people here in Midtown as many of the buildings, the lights begin to go back on. But we're still waiting for an official update from authorities to tell us whether or not this could be over.

CABRERA: OK, and Con Edison is saying that they anticipate most customers will have their power restored by midnight. We are standing by for a presser in fact it may be getting underway. Let's listen in.

DEANNE CRISWELL, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Good evening everybody. My name is Commissioner Deanne Criswell with New York City Emergency Management. I'd like to introduce with me here today as well Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Gale Brewer, as well as Assembly Member, Linda Rosenthal.

A quick update: At 6:47 p.m. there was an electrical disturbance in the system affecting approximately 62,000 customers in the Manhattan area. This was caused by a power outage on the West Side of Manhattan.

The Fire Department, Police Department and Emergency Management responded quickly to the scene and we are working closely with Con Ed to restore power as quickly as possible.

We have no reports of injuries or fatalities at this time. We also have a list of those individuals that are on life saving equipment and we are working with them to make sure they have what they need. And we have put together a joint task force with PD and the Fire Department to make sure that nobody is stuck in an elevator still.

Right now I'd like to turn it over to the CEO of Con Ed, John McAvoy to give an update from Con Ed.

JOHN MCAVOY, CEO, CONSOLIDATED EDISON: Hi, good evening. Thanks very much. My name is John McAvoy, I am here to represent Con Edison. We experienced a significant disturbance on the West Side of Manhattan at one of our electric transmission stations at roughly 6:47 p.m. that eventually interrupted power to approximately 73,000 customers.

[25:30:10] MCAVOY: We divide the electric system into what we call networks, it's roughly equivalent to neighborhood interrupted power to six networks. We expedited the recovery, performed an initial assessment of what was the most likely cause, isolated that equipment, inspected the other equipment to identify any obvious abnormalities, and now we have reason -- we have started the restoration process.

Of the six networks that we lost. We have restored two of those networks starting from just before 10:00 p.m. and we are working to restore the remaining four networks by midnight tonight.

Now there are some unknowns in this. As we restore equipment, we may find damage that we're not currently aware of. But we are proceeding on a path to restore all customers, hopefully, by midnight tonight.

We will then look at the root causes of the event and restore the system to a fully normal condition once we understand exactly what occurred and what caused the outages that we're all experiencing today.

QUESTION: Mr. McAvoy, do you know exactly why this happened in an especially hot day. And thankfully, it's a Saturday, in which businesses and people aren't in their offices?

MCAVOY: Right. It does not appear related to excessive load as sometimes has occurred in the past. When we have an incident like this, we focus first on isolation of the failed equipment or the most likely failed equipment, and then restoration of the customers and then when customers are restored and when we really do the full root cause investigation to identify what may have caused it and that will follow later today or tomorrow.

QUESTION: The lights just went on behind you, how do you feel about that?

MCAVOY: Good job. Good job. I feel just as well as everyone in the crowd here.

QUESTION: I bet, you do.

QUESTION: Some of this people heard explosions. Do we know what that was caused by?

MCAVOY: So I can't speak to the explosions that they may have heard. When you have incidents like this, large circuit breakers, which are the high voltage equivalent of circuit breakers in a panel in your house operate and they are very loud when they operate. That could have been what they heard, but I can't know for sure.

Because there were restoration attempts made as per our procedures.

QUESTION: Were there fires in the man holes at any point?

MCAVOY: So I did hear a report of a fire in a manhole. We will investigate, very unlikely that a fire in a manhole was the cause of an incident of this scale.

QUESTION: This has happened occasionally in our city and sometimes in the winter, it's ice and other times overloading, what do you think could be the cause of two incidents happening at the same time?

MCAVOY: Yes, really not estimate what could have caused this. We have to go through the full engineering analysis to look at the data, the facts and the equipment condition to identify the cause.

QUESTION: Do we know now how many more networks are back on since this one just went back on?

MCAVOY: Well, we had two out of six back. We've got definitely a third out of six. I'm looking to the team to see if anybody has any update.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three and four came back.

MCAVOY: How many did we solve out of --


MCAVOY: We have five of the six networks restored. One network remains unrestored. The Pennsylvania network which is roughly 42nd Street to 32nd Street, Hudson River to roughly Broadway 7th Avenue.

QUESTION: Do you guys expect any outages tonight with this possible unknown?

MCAVOY: No, we do not expect any additional outages this evening.

QUESTION: I have a question for the NYPD. A lot of people saw regular New Yorkers jumping into direct traffic. Didn't see a lot of police officers. I was actually in front of a precinct, didn't see any police officer jumping into that. Can you explain what the protocol is for something like that in an emergency?

STEPHEN HUGHES, COMMANDING OFFICER, MANHATTAN HUGHES: Good evening, I'm Chief Steve Hughes. I'm the Commanding Officer of Manhattan South. We did a Level 3 mobilization, bringing units from around the city, the effective area was 4-2 to 7-2 from 5th Avenue to the West Side.

We implemented a vehicle traffic freeze. We are just letting city buses off at that point, stopping signaling and traffic from going in here. We're in a process of bringing all the units in the Post Offices around on each of the blocks. So there is a significant uniform presence out there now.

QUESTION: Can you just speak to New Yorkers that stepping in and with police force, they are assisting cars.

HUGHES: Now, we appreciate their assistance. I heard reports, New York 1 had a gentleman -- an elderly gentleman with a cane out assisting traffic, but you know, our big purpose was to stop the traffic from coming into the area and that's what we were focusing on first.

QUESTION: Chief, what do you say about the New York spirit 1977, people jumping at intersections downtown. I was one back then, what do you say about New Yorkers being involved so much?

HUGHES: Yes, 42 years ago tonight that we had the blackout, so tonight, totally different situation tonight. People came together and we handled it pretty well.

QUESTION: Where is Mayor de Blasio? Will he be here at this point?

[22:35:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor de Blasio is running for President and he is in Waterloo, Iowa tonight.

CRISWELL: I'd like to just thank everybody for coming out here tonight. As you can see, we have one network that is still down, we are going to continue to work closely together with PD and Fire and Con Edison. We'll get that up as soon as possible.

The cooperation here has been excellent. That's why we've been able to get it restored as quickly as we have. And thank you again very much for coming out tonight.

QUESTION: Commissioner, do we know if anybody is in elevators? Do we still have any issues with that? I mean, this just came back on. Are you still concerned about --

CRISWELL: Again, we did have -- we have a task force that has been going to all of the affected buildings to make sure that nobody was in elevators.

QUESTION: And nobody -- have we found anything as of yet?

CRISWELL: I have not gotten any reports at this moment. But we have a task force that's definitely going building to building for those buildings that were still out of power.

QUESTION: Are there reports of injuries, this sort of thing? Reports of injuries from people --

CRISWELL: There were no reports of injuries or fatalities and I have been personally in touch with the Mayor to give him an update on this situation. All right, thank you very much.

CABRERAL OK, that was live for you right here as we're getting an update on the situation, the power outage affecting a lot of people in New York City, tens of thousands. In fact, at one point the height was 73,000 customers, according to the CEO of Con Ed, who was briefing the media there.

And in fact, as he was briefing, power went on behind him. We have that moment, let's play it.


MCAVOY: ... root cause investigation to identify what may have caused it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights just went on behind you. How do you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good job, good job.

MCAVOY: I feel just as well as everyone here.


CABRERA: You heard that big cheer as the power went on, as he was speaking. He says there were six different outlets, six different stations that were affected as part of their network -- six networks, and he's in now five of the six had been restored. And he doesn't have an exact estimate as to when that last one would be restored.

When that press conference started, two of the six were working. Now, it's five of six, just in the last few minutes. He hoped to have all the power restored by midnight. Important to note though they still don't know exactly what caused this.

He said they don't believe it was overload and he doesn't believe it was a manhole fire, which was what NYPD was tweeting out earlier, blaming that for this power outage. He said that would be highly unlikely. He said their initial focus is to restore power and then the investigation would get into exactly what caused this power outage.

Let's go back live to Polo Sandoval who has been in the middle of this area that's been without power and Polo, are you seeing all the lights go back on there?

SANDOVAL: Just a few here. Just to give you an idea of where we are. We're basically in Midtown. Time Square is just a couple blocks in front of me. If you walk about 10 blocks north of where I am standing, you'll end up at Central Park.

So from our vantage point, I have a clear shot of the lights of Times Square, a small handful of those big LED screens, those big billboards that did go out are back on. There's one at the Marriott Marquis that was out for a while. I see that back on and then to the right of me, I can basically look just over this block here and the building that you're able to see a couple of floors lit up. That's basically on 8th Avenue, you can keep going, you'll make it 9th Avenue, that was pitch dark in the last 30 minutes or so and that has lit up. And then as we continue to pan over as we look north, you can see some

light from our vantage point. However, as you continue to look north towards Central Park, there are still some buildings that appear to be dark.

So it really does speak or at least it shows or demonstrates what we heard at that press conference that they are restoring power in grids and certain sections.

So we certainly were not expecting for all of this to come back on at one particular moment. We expected that this will be a slow and steady restoration process.

I will tell you this though, every light that comes back on is certainly a welcome sight for people in this part of New York City. There are many people here, there are tourists. I have spoken to people from as far as U.K., from Mexico, who have traveled a long way to be here to catch a show, to check out a tour. And this is certainly throwing a wrench in their plans.

But I have to tell you though, Ana, and you and I have been hearing from tourists all evening, their spirits are certainly high. They are still very hopeful that this is not going to dampen their mood.

They said, you know what, we'll just go have dinner somewhere. If you can hear people are still happy, we'll go have some dinner, maybe grab a drink, and wait this out. And it appears to be that the situation is slowly improving as we continue to see some of the buildings get lit back up again.

CABRERA: Fingers crossed that stays the same. We have no reports of any injuries or fatalities according to New York City Emergency Management through all of this despite a little bit of panic and chaos. People stuck in elevators. People who have life-saving equipment that need power obviously impacted by all of this in which they said they've been in contact with those people. They have a list. They're also doing some inspections to make sure people are safe. Thank you, Polo, for your continued reporting on this.

Brian Stelter is also out and about on the streets. We see the flashing lights behind you, Brian but are the street lights returning? I know you're near Columbus Circle.

[22:40:30] STELTER: Yes, and this is the one part of the city that still does not have power. Of those six networks that the officials described, this is the one part of the city without power. And that is why these police officers are right behind me.

As soon as the horse carriage is headed home for the evening, you can see some of the police officers directing traffic on Central Park South.

This is Central Park South where there is no power. Think about famed hotels like The Plaza Hotel, the Essex House. Those buildings still without power. However, Ana, during that press conference, we did see buildings on the other side start to regain power -- the Trump International Hotel, Time Warner Center by Columbus Circle, some of the big apartment buildings in the Upper West Side did suddenly light up.

And I'm holding this glow stick, because, Ana this is the glow sticks that some of the residents here are carrying around. This is what they've been handed when they were trying to go up and down 20 or 30 flights of stairs in some cases.

So this is the one part of the city still without power, but I would say people are taking it in stride for the most part. The initial stress of this has calmed down a bit. I think what we are left with is the reminder about just how fragile these grids really are.

It is remarkable how much all of us whether you're a resident or a tourist or an Emergency Management, you know, how we take for granted the power grid and the ability to get online and have air conditioning et cetera. A good reminder for New York City tonight about how all of that is sometimes very fragile.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. Brian Stelter, reporting for us. Keep us posted on when the lights go on near you because again, that's apparently the one area that has not been restored just yet. Thank you very much. Brian Stelter, again the latest reporting now, five of the six networks that were without power are back on, so there's still one more they're still working to restore power.

Much of New York City that's been in the dark for the last several hours is rejoicing tonight as the power slowly comes back on. A live look overhead right now as we take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[22:45:33] CABRERA: Breaking News and the lights are coming back on in parts of Manhattan after a big blackout this evening. Con Edison now working to restore power after this outage that hit much of Midtown and the Upper West Side, Con Ed hoping for all the lights to be restored by midnight and you can see lights shining once again, some of those iconic buildings.

This is what it looked like inside the Knickerbocker Hotel that's on 42nd Street and Broadway. It says right after the outage, you can see firefighters working to rescue people who were stuck in the elevator in this hotel after the power went out. And CNN's Richard Roth joins us now on the phone. Richard, your own apartment lost power. What's it been like around you tonight?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I had a hunch, so I spent my Saturday night in Manhattan like thousands of others sitting in the dark either listening to a transistor radio or some other device for some entertainment.

But then I knocked on my neighbor's door, Marty, who I've only said maybe a few words over the years in an elevator and he kindly let me in and also is allowing me to use this phone. And we were having a little philosophical discussion in the dark, which I think was happening around town and you looked outside of these giant dark skyscrapers, very eerie though I have lived through three other large blackouts in Manhattan before and then at about 10:31 suddenly, in the middle of our conversation, the lights went on and there was a gigantic cheer from below.

And believe me, you don't often hear cheers on the streets of Manhattan, 18 floors up. So I think you're going to hear a lot of stories in Manhattan office buildings about how did you spend your Saturday night probably, a lot of horror stories. I bet there are some couples and people who wish that the lights never came back on, on a Saturday night in New York, Ana.

CABRERA: A rare moment of peace in that regard when you're overstimulated sometimes being in this city, right, when the lights are always shining. Were you already in the process of you know lighting candles, gathering some of your gear, you know headlamps and that sort of thing or were you just sitting back and not worried?

ROTH: Well, I am not a coal miner with a headlamp, but I take the --

CABRERA: I guess that's me and my Colorado girl who likes to take it to go camping.

ROTH: Yes, there's no abandoned gold mine in my building that I've been told off. Instead, the building sent out a note all the tenants saying don't light candles, don't use water. Don't flush your toilets, a whole lot of don'ts as they tried to find out what was going on.

But you could see some lights just a few blocks away from apartments that were above the grid which was knocked out. I think New York dodged the bullet.

I mean, in 1965, the entire northeast including Manhattan was knocked out and that lasted through until the next morning. And I was glad we didn't have school I think that day, but the 1977 blackout, scarier. A lot of looting, a different climate in New York then.

And then about 15 or 16 years ago, a blackout during rush hour, not pleasant either. The city was not as humid the last two blackouts. I think considering what happened that a few hours of darkness without major damage, people will accept it easily.

CABRERA: And I think it's so important to also know, you've mentioned these different blackouts, 42 years to the day of that famous 1977 New York City blackout, which so many people who've lived in this city for a long time remember because it was so impactful with the looting and the damage and all of that, but you say this was nothing, this one compared, right?

ROTH: Not compared. I remember, 1977, I was at Greenwich Village and I was a cub reporter you might say for a college radio station. You go down to City Hall. It was dark. People of a certain age, you might remember -- you never think you're standing next to the Mayor of New York in complete darkness in Lower Manhattan as police sirens and you heard massive reports of looting. Yes, the Bronx was burning was the title of those days in the late

70s. New York has changed a lot. But as Brian pointed out in your earlier interview about how we take for granted a lot of what we use and enjoy every day, every minute when it's taken away. You see how things can change.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. Richard Roth, thank you very much for sharing your perspective with us and some of those memories. Glad everything is restoring to normal tonight when it comes to the lights in New York City as we give you these live images of the lights and overhead here in the Big Apple where much of the city was in the dark just a few minutes ago.

You can see looking more like itself tonight. We'll be right back. A quick break and we'll return in just a moment. You're watching CNN.


[22:53:14] CABRERA: Well, the lights are coming back on in parts of New York City. CNN's Polo Sandoval has been out on the city streets. Where it was once dark, you're still there now, Polo. But are the lights all back up and running where you are? How much of the city is now in the light?

SANDOVAL: Well, Ana, from my vantage point, you could see some of the large billboards in Times Square that were off, those are back on, a couple of buildings 9th Avenue just west of where I am, those are starting to light up and then down the street though, it is still dark, but I'll tell you what, we've been talking to people for the last three hours and it seems that the world keeps getting smaller and smaller.

I ran into a yet another family that's visiting from the Rio Grande Valley from my native South Texas. Is this your first time in New York?



SANDOVAL: Tell me about with experience has been like for you the last three hours. You were telling me you got stuck on the subway. I'll start with you, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it was just -- it was something else.

SANDOVAL: Was it scary?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't really say I was too scared. I just thought it was something that was just part of you know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, we were on our way back from Yankee Stadium. We got stuck in the subway for probably an hour and a half. So we came up here and we find out that our hotel where we're staying at is -- everything is shut down. So -- SANDOVAL: So I've asked a lot of the tourists tonight, what are they

going to do next? We hear that by midnight power should be restored. You do have a plan if that doesn't happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. We're just -- we leave tomorrow. We leave tomorrow, so --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this was kind of a weird ending.

SANDOVAL: So it's good and bad timing.



SANDOVAL: So back in South Texas where the three of us are from, it feels like 150 to 120 degrees in the summertime. How was the heat for you all here? Are you afraid that if you have to make stick it out in a hot hotel room tonight, it might be too much?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad the weather is the way it is right now. Because if we were in Texas, oh my gosh. We would have been sweating.

[22:55:10] SANDOVAL: This is winter where we're from.


SANDOVAL: We're so sorry to hear that this is the way that you guys -- this is the way New York send you off, but it seems like you're in good spirits.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, Ii couldn't be worse.

SANDOVAL: We're South Texans, right?


SANDOVAL: It's so nice to talk to you both. Enjoy your visit. Thanks so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you.

SANDOVAL: Glad -- was the Yankee game pretty good?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yankees lost, but --

SANDOVAL: It's been a rough night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to win tomorrow. SANDOVAL: It's been a rough night. Folks, thank you so much. Ana,

spirits are high. The Yankees lost, but it seems that New York is slowly, slowly getting back online. Back to.

CABRERA: OK, that's good news and no injuries. No fatalities. We know that firefighters and emergency personnel are continuing to go building to build and make sure people aren't still stuck in elevators.

So that situation is still developing and we should note, there are still parts of New York City without power. It's not all back up and running just yet. So we're going to continue our coverage, but that does it for me for now. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thank you for staying with me.

Alex Marquardt is going to pick up our coverage of the New York City blackout right after a quick break.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.