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Power to New York City 85 Percent Restored - 2003-08-15

New York struggled to return to normalcy on a second hot and humid day as power slowly returned. City officials say power has been restored to eighty-five percent of the city.

Commuter trains are slowly returning to the rails on limited schedules, helping stranded workers get home. The city's huge subway system is still not working and will not be operational until new day dawns. By late Friday afternoon some traffic lights started to work. Area airports are open but delays are extensive.

Most parts of the city now have electricity and water. But much of the downtown financial district of New York is poised to begin a second evening dark. The New York Stock Exchange operated thanks to a backup power system but it was the lightest trading day of the year, with about one-third of the average volume of shares traded. Many traders had spent the night sleeping on the Exchange's floor.

The cause of the failure that resulted in the loss of power to some 50 million people in eight states and parts of Canada is still uncertain.

New York State Governor George Pataki expressed frustration that safeguards built into the system after major power failures in 1965 and 1977 did not prevent the blackout.

"No one knows at this point, and no one can tell me at this point why this happened," he said. "The best information we have is that it was from somewhere west of Ontario. A systematic failure out there that then cascaded across Canada, down through New York and through the Northeast. Now until we know why it happened and why the safeguards did not work, no one can say that the system was failproof because obviously it was not."

Hospitals report treating many people for heat-related ailments, but only one death has been attributed to the power outage. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he expects the city to be back to normal by the start of the new work week Monday.