A whopping 61% of this week’s respondents said they were unaffected by the blackout – a reminder to those in the “corridor” that only 9 states were actually impacted (and not all of those). Still, even those who were not directly impacted did feel some ripples, including the Texas reader who said, “I was not in an affected area. I learned about the blackout when I had a meeting interrupted with an ‘important call’ from NYC. I then watched TV, until I could call back and report that no terrorist activity was involved.”
One reader noted, ” We were not affected by the power outage in North Carolina ; however, we did notice a big drop in the volume of calls and emails versus what that we usually get – mostly from financial firms located in the northeast!” while another in the “indirectly” affected category was this Kentucky reader who observed, “The repercussions have hit here, though, as gas prices increased 27 cents overnight. The local news is reporting the blackout has caused a gas shortage and the gas companies say prices ‘should start going down soon.’ Sure. And I have a beautiful piece of waterfront property in Florida for sale really cheap… :)”
Another southern reader wryly observed, “Note: We went through days of no power in freezing temperatures last winter. The North had it easy.”
Another noted, “Business as usual here in southern Ohio . However, my husband was up in Detroit . He actually called home and had our 12-year-old daughter access the Internet for news and an explanation. My real comment has to do with the emergency broadcast network- the folks who have interrupted my TV and radio for years. As I understand it, Detroit was radio free for sometime. Why didn’t they use that network?”
And there was the reader from Wichita, Kansas, who “…had not heard about the black-out until after I got home. However, it seemed strange to me that when I got home all the clocks in the house were blinking 12:00. Twice more during the evening the electricity went off for just a few seconds. HMMMMMMM!”
Of course, the “interesting” tales come from those who WERE impacted. In that category, 28% left early (although most by no more than 10 minutes, by the account of those who were that specific), about 5% were impacted, but didn’t know it until they got home, while about 7% either stuck around for awhile, or spent the night somewhere else – including the reader who, “(a) headed home early, (b) stuck around until the traffic cleared up (finishing all the still cold beer at a sidewalk restaurant) – and when the power did not come back up: (d) spent the night somewhere else….”
Here are a few snippets from those who WERE impacted:
“A) Headed home early (just 10 minutes), but got home late. Dropped my assistant off at her husband’s work so that he wouldn’t have to fight the awful downtown traffic (like we did) to pick her up. The next day was almost business as usual. I work in Toledo, OH, but live about 50 miles away in Michigan . It took me twice as long to get home that day. Toledo got power back Thursday night, but not at our home. Friday morning came and still no power (or water), so my wife and I both went to work and used our respective washrooms there to clean up. My first call Friday morning was to reserve an extended stay hotel room for 3 days in Toledo…It was already the last room available at that hotel, due to the Jaime Farr LPGA tournament last week.”
“When the lights went out in our office in NYC we thought it was just our building. We then looked out the window and discovered the streets were filled with people. We then descended the 32 flights of stairs. Our office was closed on Friday and the stories of arriving home were many and varied. Fortunately, either on Thursday or Friday, everyone safely arrived home.”
“Camped out at the office (well, in the lower level where the cafeteria was) until 5am. Then set out to borrow a friend’s car to drive home to Long Island (1.5 hour walk uptown in Manhattan). Not too bad since my Company has generators, and was able to provide food, water, and other items for the hundreds of us who had no other way to get home that evening.”
“When our power went out our second shift had just put in 2 hours of work. I was trying to leave, but couldn’t get out of the driveway due to heavy traffic. As I was sitting there, the car radio announcer claimed the blackout affected the entire eastern coast, Canada, and parts of California. I immediately thought the worst. I backed my car up and instructed the supervisor to send everyone home now. (He was going to have them pull weeds outside in the remaining daylight since our punch presses were down.) My immediate reaction was that if this was terrorism, our employees needed to be with their families.”
“I was on my way to New York from our offices in Atlanta – our flight arrived at LGA at 4:45 – about 30 minutes AFTER the blackout started. From what I heard, we landed using visual systems only. Then we headed to Hertz where, thankfully, we had a reservation. The clerk at one point said that if you didn’t have a reservation you weren’t getting a car. We spent the next 90 minutes telling people that yes, this long line WAS the gold line and, NO, it did not matter if they had a reservation, they still couldn’t go to the front….”
For the most part, everyone’s benefit system backups appeared to kick in just fine – if there were problems, no one seems to have been checking their balances. However, one plan sponsor reported, “We did have problems with our payroll service. They bounced all of our direct deposit checks because the bank did not credit our covering deposit!”
This week’s Editor’s Choice goes to a reader who wasn’t in the impacted area, but notes, “Though our office is in civilization, many of our employees live in outlying areas. Rumor is that it would have taken them 2 days to notice it anyway.”
Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!
"When our power went out our second shift had just put in 2 hours of work. I was trying to leave, but couldn't get out of the driveway due to heavy traffic. As I was sitting there, the car radio announcer claimed the blackout affected the entire eastern coast, Canada, and parts of California. I immediately thought the worst. I backed my car up and instructed the supervisor to send everyone home now. (He was going to have them pull weeds outside in the remaining daylight since our punch presses were down.) My immediate reaction was that if this was terrorism, our employees needed to be with their families."
I'm still not convinced this wasn't intentionally done to prove how vulnerable we are.
For me it was a combination of c and e. I heard about it on NPR on my way home from work and my part of our state was not affected. However, my father in law was in surgery when the lights went off. Fortunately, the hospital had back up generators and his surgery was just about over. It was more than a little scary for those "loved ones" in the waiting room though.
(a) head home early,
(b) stick around until the traffic cleared up (finishing all the still cold beer at a sidewalk restaurant) - and when the power did not come back up:
(d) spend the night somewhere else
(d) I was not in an affected area. I learned about the blackout when I had a meeting interrupted with an "important call" from NYC. I then watched TV, until I could call back and report that no terrorist activity was involved.
I wasn't affected at all here in Columbus, OH. The odd thing is neither was my dad in Old Saybrook nor my sister in Southington. When my dad said he had power, I assumed you guys did too. Of course, I forgot you were on vacation. Why would I spare a thought about you guys at plansponsor.com? Well, you're the only people from CT that e-mail me everyday. A point I make to my family and friends at every opportunity.
My answer is d) business as usual. We weren't in a state that was impacted, although we had some amusing e-mails (eventually) from our offices in the impacted areas. We didn't have any impact to our 401(k) that we were aware of.
A) we sent people home a bit early (4:30...as that is when we found out the problem was HUGE), and no delays (we got power back that evening, Toledo, OH), but I can come up with a delay if it gets us an extension!! Just put a note in the file with anything late saying Northeast Blackout and we should be covered come audit time.....right?
We had no problems except a UPS package that was delayed. However, I do recall that in the big New York blackout in the 60's they told us that it would never happen again. I wonder if we're going to have a surge in births in nine months like we did the last time this happened...
Survey response: (d), business as usual (Wisconsin was not affected).
At the office it was (d) business as usual. We're in Bloomington, Minnesota. Personally, I was on a hot golf course in northern Minnesota when it happened and did not even hear about it until the next morning.
(d) business as usual, but I watched the event take place on TV with great interest and hoped that it would not hit Maine, because I would have been called back in to work.
(d) business as usual (after all, only 9 states were affected). Extremely glad to live in North Carolina though!
We were extremely lucky. The power only flickered off and on a couple of times and then stayed on. However, the power was out in cities to the north, east, south and west of us. Even the north side of our town had a several hour power outage. Our mail went out as usual from our office, but instead of going to Lansing, which had no power it was diverted to Grand Rapids, which did have power.
Our Recordkeeper, had the power flicker, but they did not lose power either. And if they did,
they have back up generators. However, they had the same issue as us. Their mail, once it
left the building went to areas without power, so there have been phone calls asking where delayed checks are.
My answer is to be patient that the mail is out there somewhere. It just needs a few more days to get there.
Our offices in Detroit, Redford, Lansing, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo were without power on Thursday. Kalamazoo and Battle Creek had power restored Friday a.m. Lansing had power restored Friday afternoon. Then our Flint office lost power Friday afternoon.??? In Jackson we just had the power flicker. I don't have the scoop on our offices in NY or OH.
Well, I was on my way to New York from our offices in Atlanta - our flight arrived at LGA at 4:45 - about 30 minutes AFTER the blackout started. From what I heard, we landed using visual systems only. And it wasn't until we were on the ground that the pilot told us of the blackout. Other passengers were skeptical of a 5 state blackout. And I was a bit skeptical as well. They had to deplane us from the rear using stairs since the Jetways can't operate without power.
For once, it was a benefit sitting in row 35. Once we got into baggage claim, then it was obvious how serious things were - no lights at all, and then I started wondering if it was a terrorist attack, but already the authorities were saying it wasn't.
My coworker had gotten bumped to first class, so I had to wait quite awhile for him to deplane. Then we headed to Hertz where, thankfully, we had a reservation. The clerk at one point said that if you didn't have a reservation you weren't getting a car. We had to wait for 90 minutes to get to the desk and get a car. They were writing up contracts by hand. Gold service didn't matter. As soon as the power went out, they pulled all the keys and contracts from the Gold cars...so even if you had a gold reservation, it didn't matter. We spent the 90 minutes telling people that yes, this long line WAS the gold line and NO, it did not matter if they had a reservation, they still couldn't go to the front. The line was short when we got there, but it was wrapped around the building by the time we left. I can't imagine how long the latecomers waited to get a car.
The drive to White Plains took quite some time. Thankfully, I had my cell phone, so I used it to call my wife and let her know what was up. Traffic was a complete mess, and we started to get worried about where and what we would eat. On the way up, we spotted one of those rest stops off the road that seemed to have power. There was a line at the Sunoco, so we pulled in. There was a Burger King that also had backup power. We dashed in to get dinner. Problem 1
Thankfully, we had the Neverlost navigation system, so we found out way to White Plains pretty easily. The hotel was dark, but they did have generators to run the elevators, hall lights, and computers, so we were able to get checked in and get to our rooms, which were warm and dark. The windows only opened a scant 6 inches, so I didn't get much of a breeze that night. The phones were working, but it was hard to dial in the dark. I called my wife and then my manager to let them know how I was. Then, my coworker, Dave, and I headed to the lobby for drinks. I hit the sack around 11 after taking a shower, which is a bit hard to do in a dark, unfamiliar hotel room. I didn't sleep much that night. There were lots of police sirens coming through the window, so it was an unrestful night.
The power came back on at about 5:00 AM, but the AC didn't come back on. At least I was able to watch the news and take a morning shower in light. The White Plains facility was operational, but we didn't have phone service or network access. We were still able to hold our meeting because 1-800 numbers were working, so the folks who didn't make it could call in on the
call in number. The meeting actually ended early, and when I had last spoken with my wife, she said that LGA was operational, so my coworker and I headed to LGA. We didn't think to call ahead. Well, when we got to LGA, it looked like no planes were leaving, so we pulled off to the side and called Delta to check.
My feeling was that it would better to check before turning in the rental car. My mom, who works for Hertz, told me that you could generally keep the car for a small fee, so I thought if we needed it, better to keep it. We pulled out my cell phone, and Dave called Delta on his Platinum Medallion line. Delta said our 8 PM flight had been cancelled, but they got us seats on a 6 PM flight. Cool. So we headed to Hertz to return the car. Since they hadn't entered the manual contracts into the computer yet, we couldn't do the rapid return and had to go inside. That took about 40 minutes because there were some picky customers in front of us who for some reason were upset that Hertz hadn't saved a Lincoln TownCar for them - they weren't even grateful that they had even been able to land at LGA!
After returning the car, we headed to the airport. When we got there, we discovered that the Delta terminal was warm and dark - no flights in or out. Apparently, the Delta 1-800 numbers didn't know that when we had called earlier. Dave immediately got on my cell to call Delta and check on Newark and Kennedy. No flights available. He was then checking on other airports when my cell phone died (we had used it a bunch over the past two days). We then found a pay phone and tried to find flights out anywhere within 4 hours of LGA - no luck,. Then we tried finding a room. None were available. We tried to book a car - no go. Then the pay phones all died as well. Were we surprised? Nope.
We stopped the Hertz bus and asked if there was anyway we could get a car, and the driver said the manager said that cars were available. We headed back to Hertz, and got back in line. Because we didn't have a reservation, we almost didn't get a car. We decided at this point that we would drive to Atlanta. I wasn't about to sleep on the street.
We headed for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. It was then we realized that we only had $15 between the two of us. I came up with over $60 in cash, but we had used most of it. The bridge toll ate $8, and then the turnpike started eating more, and we still hadn't had dinner. Once we got into NJ, we spotted another rest stop. We pulled off, and they had power and an ATM. I got $200 as I had no idea what other problems we might run into. Dave decided to call Delta again and check on small airports. Sure enough, he DID find two seats on a small commuter jet out of Harrisburg direct to Atlanta. I then called and booked us rooms in Harrisburg.
It took us about 2.5 hours to get there. It was 10:30, and we were exhausted. We got to the hotel, which had full power, and found a long line at check in. Apparently, this Crowne Plaza in downtown Harrisburg is the place to stay if you have kids. There were a dozen families in line with kids, and it took 30 minutes to get checked in. The staff went to the "slow and steady" school of hotel management, I guess. After we checked in, I stopped briefly at my room and then headed out to gas up the rental car so that would be one less thing to do the next day. That took longer than it should have, and then when I got back to the hotel, I discovered the garage was full, and I had to have a bellman open the garage next door for me. Fun fun fun.
Once I got to my room, I called my wife, told her we had made it safely, then took a shower and washed out a pair of socks from the day before. Anyway, I then tried to get some sleep only to
discover that this Crowne Plaza is RIGHT NEXT TO THE DOWNTOWN POLICE STATION. All night long, I heard sirens from police cars. So, a fitful two hours was all the sleep I got.
In the morning, we headed to the airport. Turned the car in. There were no Hertz personnel, so I had no idea if we'd be charged an arm and leg for not returning the car to Atlanta. Turns out, they only charged us mileage, which was fine by me. We then got to the airport and had to wait 30 minutes to get checked in. But the flight was on time, and I got back to my house by 10 AM.
My answer is (d) - mostly business as usual since KY was not affected by the actual power outage. The repercussions have hit here, though, as gas prices increased 27 cents overnight. The local news is reporting the blackout has caused a gas shortage and the gas companies say prices "should start going down soon." Sure. And I have a beautiful piece of waterfront property in Florida for sale really cheap... 🙂
D here in suburban Boston, with minor concerns (tempered with hopes of an early close) because our main server is in NJ...
B and the 401k process was unaffected since the process is setup so that the investment is made on the paydate 8/15.
re: survey question - - d) I live and work in the Midwest and was unaffected (since the protective system managed to work before it got this far). I was very concerned until I read that terrorism was apparently not the reason. I really felt for folks trapped in places. I was proud of the civility demonstrated by so many. 'Way to go!
Normal day for me! Had to pick up the *** CREW CAB TRUCK from the shop for a tune-up. That's when I noticed something going on up North on CNN in the waiting room. At first I was disturbed and then I laughed at the guy that said everyone in New York City should remain calm. We all know they are NEVER calm even on a normal day. But I was impressed by the way NYC and other cities handled the situation. No looting or shootings. Wow!
All I can say is thank God for TVA.
When the lights went out in our office in NYC we thought it was just our building. We then looked out the window and discovered the streets were filled with people. We then descended the 32 flights of stairs. Our office was closed on Friday and the stories of arriving home were many and varied. Fortunately, either on Thursday or Friday, everyone safely arrived home.
Camped out at the office (well, in the lower level where the cafeteria was) until 5am. Then set out to borrow a friend's car to drive home to Long Island (1.5 hour walk uptown in Manhattan). Not too bad since my Company has generators, and was able to provide food, water, and other items for the hundreds of us who had no other way to get home that evening.......
A) Not only did we head home early Thursday due to no electricity/no computers, we had to close early Friday. We had electricity by then but no water in the building. Which meant no bathrooms. Additionally, the Mayor still had downtown Cleveland closed Friday till noon. It was definitely like a "snow day" around here! Water was still bad to drink on Monday but all else back to normal.
I didn't know about the blackout until I got home. I work for a trucking company with headquarters in PA but with 5 terminals in NY and NJ that were in the area affected. We communicate with our drivers by email since our trucks are equipped with computers to verify deliveries and pickups so we can plan for the next day - we were a little backlogged the next day but I think we are now caught up.
I live in Wichita, Kansas and had not heard about the blackout until after I got home. However, it seemed strange to me that when I got home all the clocks in the house were blinking 12:00. Twice more during the evening the electricity went off for just a few seconds. HMMMMMMM!
d didn't affect us in Harrisburg--didn't delay any security processing either
(c) Learned about it in transit, we kept electricity in NC. (e) Various departments picked up the slack from other offices & outside banks.
Note: We went through days of no power in freezing temperatures last winter. The North had it easy.
d - located in Illinois
Re: The blackout. We were not affected by the power outage in North Carolina, however, we did notice a big drop in the volume of calls and emails versus what that we usually get - mostly from financial firms located in the northeast!
Regarding the blackout: As a sometimes consultant these days (as opposed to the full-time retirement services executive I had been), I found myself in Boston, both visiting my husband at his consulting site and escorting my son on a round of visits to Boston University, Boston College and Tufts University. A friend from the Boston area (where we had previously lived) phoned me in our hotel room to give me the news of the blackout, my son and I having just returned from a college visit. My spouse, who I tried to contact, works in financial services, and a contingent of executives from the Boston-based company to whom he was providing consulting services was in MYC that day. My husband came "home" to the hotel blissfully unaware of the blackout (I'd never reached him). The following day he learned that some of the executives hired a limo and were driven home; others were the welcome guests of the employees of the financial institution they were visiting in NYC. The worst thing that happened to us was a delayed flight home later the following evening (from Boston to Milwaukee). And while I do not have any reports of delayed 401k recordkeeping activity, I can tell you that my mortgage banker reports a minor delay on the refinancing of our mortgage as a result of the blackout (the home office being in Canada); the good news is that we had locked in our rate at 4.875%!
Business as usual -- Boston wasn't affected!
Our offices in the states that were affected closed early. There were some issues concerning change making over the weekend, but generally, it was not a big deal.
I, like you, was planning on taking off Friday, so when the lights when out, I got an hour earlier jump on the vacation day - however that hour was lost in traffic leaving NY area.
Our office buildings had generators, which provided enough power for our night group to receive prices and update all our 401k plans on schedule. We were very light staffed on Friday, as most employees had no power at home, and mass transit was out, but we had no client service issues
Of the choices, we were business as usual since we were unaffected (directly). We were, however, ready to back up our Ft. Lee, NJ location should that have been necessary.
E) Out of the effected area. Though our office is in civilization, many of our employees live in outlying areas. Rumor is that it would have taken them 2 days to notice it anyway.
We watched the news with our mouths hanging open. I still don't know what caused it.
Working in Cleveland - the power went off 5 minutes before I went home. So no big deal there. But, we were closed on Friday. No a/c, no water...and of course when the power did come on, we were having problems with our server!
Of our six operations one was in the black out area. We heat treat, simply put we run metal parts manufactured by our customers through our furnaces to give them the properties you associate with metals. For instance the pick Moe smacks Larry on the forehead with and turns the blade into and accordion. We did NOT heat treat that one. Our furnaces are massive and expensive, however our service is generally cheap compared to the total cost of the customers part. As such we don't want to damage them. Our furnaces are set up with back up power so that when the lights go out we have enough time to empty the furnaces to at least stop the process. We did that, and by the next morning our power was up and we were able to repair and start over. luckily a minor blip. Most workers went home early, a few production stayed to secure operations. The other five locations, no problem. SO for our Cleveland office staff the (a)ed it and bolted early, but not by much.
Business as usual here in southern Ohio. However, my husband was up in Detroit. He actually called home and had our 12-year-old daughter access the Internet for news and an explanation. My real comment has to do with the emergency broadcast network- the folks who have interrupted my TV and radio for years. As I understand it, Detroit was radio free for sometime. Why didn't they use that network?
I was lucky enough to be on vacation during the blackout and thankful enough that my return flight from Las Vegas was on Wednesday evening and not 24 hours later. A well-timed vacation, I'd have to say.
I reside in Colorado so it was 'D' for me, more or less. It was business as usual except we had limited computer use. Some of our systems are tied to our corporate office in New York, which unfortunately was down a good portion of the day.
E. Business as usual. Never would have known about it if it hadn't been for my mom's surgeon who had to check on friends and family in New York after doing surgery on my mom's broken hip. (Now how he found out is a scary thought!)
No problems with a 401(k). I have a defined benefit plan and a 457 plan with the County of Orange, CA.
(d). We had our "fun" on Wednesday when the Blaster worm virus hit our offices and all PCs in the building were shut down about 11AM. Left early that day!
A confluence of events made for a very difficult afternoon/evening. First the good news -- There was no outage in the office.
Then the bad. My son was supposed to get a train at around 4: 30 PM from New York to Waterbury, where I was going to meet him with a car so he and his girlfriend could drive to Boston for a wedding over the weekend. A friend who was driving up from New Jersey had agreed to meet me at the station and give me a ride home. Since all the cell phones were out I couldn't reach my son to see if he had actually gotten out of the city so I had to plan on driving to Waterbury just in case he did. He finally called me on a landline and confirmed that he was not getting out that evening. I then couldn't reach my friend who was on his way to Waterbury, so I had to start driving. About half way there, I reached him and told him to head straight to the house. I turned around and got home to find I had no power and couldn't open the garage door (electric opener). Fortunately, I was planning to cook on the outdoor grill, so we were able to have dinner. And the power finally came on about 8 PM.
A) Headed home early (just 10 minutes). But got home late. Dropped my assistant off at her husband's work so that he wouldn't have to fight the awful downtown traffic (like we did) to pick her up.
The next day was almost business as usual. I work in Toledo, OH, but live about 50 miles away in Michigan. It took me twice as long to get home that day. Toledo got power back Thursday night, but not at our home. Friday morning came and still no power (or water), so my wife and I both went to work and used our respective washrooms there to clean up. My first call Friday morning was to reserve an extended stay hotel room for 3 days in Toledo (DTE Energy said they expected that power wouldn't be fully restored until Monday). It was already the last room available at that hotel, due to the Jaime Farr LPGA tournament last week.
The whole experience served to have me appreciate the conveniences we have in this country and look back on the whole ordeal as just a minor inconvenience. In light of the huge nature of the problem, I marvel at the restorative work that was accomplished in such a short time. We had power back at our home by mid-day on Friday, thankfully. So I was able to cancel our hotel room. No big deal.
I live in Northeast Ohio -- one of the affected areas. Our offices in Hudson, OH were not affected. But the homebound commute was interesting --no traffic lights.
My son was coming home from the Akron, OH area to Medina, OH (maybe 20 miles). It took him 3 hours. On Monday morning, we had employees arriving who still had no electricity and/or water. In line with your "luck," my brother-in-law, who commutes from Phila. to NYC by train,
had "lost" his wallet the day before and had stayed home to replace the license, contact the credit card companies, replace his AMTRAK pass, etc. He considers that great luck in that he was not stuck on a commuter train or in NYC for the weekend!
We headed home soon after the lights went out.
We did have problems with our payroll service. They bounced all of our direct deposit checks because the bank did not credit our covering deposit!
(c) not know about the problems when you left work. We are in Illinois and unaffected.
E- None of the above. Like you I was on vacation last Thursday afternoon and completely missed the black out.
(d) business as usual, and some problems that our participants experienced making 401k transactions. The call center was offline because of the blackout and CSR's were using old hardcopy plan docs and rules we'd changed in our plan. Otherwise, ...I didn't even hear about it out here until Friday morning... sorry.