Manhattan power is back on hours later as governor calls outage unacceptable

Updated 12:03 PM EDT, Sun July 14, 2019
PHOTO: WABC
Now playing
02:04
Power restored after parts of Manhattan left in the dark
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: Sen. John Cornyn (R) (R-TX) talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) while walking to the U.S. Senate chamber for a vote March 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate continues to debate the latest COVID-19 relief bill.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: Sen. John Cornyn (R) (R-TX) talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) while walking to the U.S. Senate chamber for a vote March 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate continues to debate the latest COVID-19 relief bill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:54
Axelrod breaks down Manchin's surprising move
sinema
PHOTO: CNN
sinema
Now playing
01:50
Senator's move has many on the internet outraged
PHOTO: FBI
Now playing
02:58
Trump State Department official charged in Capitol riot
John King Magic Wall 0305
PHOTO: CNN
John King Magic Wall 0305
Now playing
02:17
President Biden sending a team to the US-Mexico border
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:53
Here's how Canadian schools have stayed open
This image was taken during the first drive of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4, 2021. The team has spent the weeks since landing checking out the rover to prepare for surface operations.
PHOTO: JPL-Caltech/NASA
This image was taken during the first drive of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4, 2021. The team has spent the weeks since landing checking out the rover to prepare for surface operations.
Now playing
02:17
NASA releases stunning new images from Mars
Rep john garamendi 0305
PHOTO: CNN
Rep john garamendi 0305
Now playing
02:33
Rep. Garamendi: Any lawmaker involved in Capitol riots ought to be thrown out of Congress
A view of Capitol Hill during heightened security concerns over possible protests or violence tomorrow March 3, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Washington's security posture has been bolstered after threats of a possible March 4, 2021, "breach" of the US Capitol, with the House of Representatives changing its voting plans to avoid gathering members on a day of potential unrest. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
A view of Capitol Hill during heightened security concerns over possible protests or violence tomorrow March 3, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Washington's security posture has been bolstered after threats of a possible March 4, 2021, "breach" of the US Capitol, with the House of Representatives changing its voting plans to avoid gathering members on a day of potential unrest. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:18
Rep. Sarbanes: Failure to pass HR 1 'would split our democracy in two'
Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner  attends a press conference on September 4, 2020, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner attends a press conference on September 4, 2020, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:50
Jared Kushner disappears from Trump's inner circle
PHOTO: CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell
Now playing
02:14
Governor Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett speaks out
In this Dec. 1, 2020 file photo, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.  Powell told Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021,  that the central bank will not begin raising interest rates until the Fed believes it has reached its goals on maximum employment  and warned that many people in the hardest hit industries will likely need to find different jobs.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)
PHOTO: Susan Walsh/AP
In this Dec. 1, 2020 file photo, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Powell told Congress on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, that the central bank will not begin raising interest rates until the Fed believes it has reached its goals on maximum employment and warned that many people in the hardest hit industries will likely need to find different jobs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)
Now playing
02:18
Jerome Powell: US economy 'some time' away from full recovery
A customer wears a face mask while shopping for flowers displayed for sale from a wholesale merchant ahead of the Valentine's Day holiday at the Southern California Flower Market on February 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - While some florists note an increased demand for socially distant gifts, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted global supply chains and shut down most large events including weddings where flowers are popular. The Valentine's Day and Mother's Day holidays are historically the two busiest days of the year for floral businesses. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP
A customer wears a face mask while shopping for flowers displayed for sale from a wholesale merchant ahead of the Valentine's Day holiday at the Southern California Flower Market on February 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. - While some florists note an increased demand for socially distant gifts, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted global supply chains and shut down most large events including weddings where flowers are popular. The Valentine's Day and Mother's Day holidays are historically the two busiest days of the year for floral businesses. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:39
States rolling back Covid-19 safety measures as cases continue to rise
PHOTO: CBS' 60 Minutes+/Getty Images
Now playing
01:45
'QAnon Shaman' says he has one regret about January 6
psaki
PHOTO: CNN
psaki
Now playing
00:56
Psaki fires back at Trump testing czar over vaccine claims
Now playing
02:30
Alabama governor explains why she's ending mask mandate
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:35
See what security looks like outside US Capitol
(CNN) —  

Power was fully restored in New York early Sunday after an outage left parts of the city in darkness for hours, leaving thousands trapped in subway cars and elevators, and people guiding traffic at intersections.

The outage started Saturday evening and the lights were back on shortly after midnight, officials said. It mostly affected midtown Manhattan and parts of the Upper West Side. No injuries were reported.

People spilled out into the streets as lights suddenly dimmed at Broadway shows and speakers fell silent at Jennifer Lopez’s concert. Even the flashing lights at the iconic Times Square went dark, leaving the area surrounded by the glow of cellphones taking photos of the surreal scene.

Lopez said she was disappointed she had to cancel her concert on her second night at Madison Square Garden. She rescheduled it for Monday night.

“I’m devastated and heartbroken right now,” she said. “I just don’t even know what to say. … Obviously it was beyond all our control.”

When the lights flicked back on, crowds erupted into cheers in some places.

People walk along a dark street near Times Square.
PHOTO: Jeenah Moon/Reuters
People walk along a dark street near Times Square.

Hours of darkness

At the height of the outage, 72,000 customers were in the dark, utility company Con Edison said. It had given a preliminary number of 73,000 – but lowered it early Sunday. Power started trickling back on just before 10 p.m., it said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked people to stay indoors despite the full restoration.

“While power has been restored, there are still some traffic signals that are out, so we would not encourage New Yorkers to go out if you don’t have to go out,” he said.

Officials have released varying descriptions about what led to the outage. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was returning to the city after a presidential campaign stop in Iowa, said the outage appeared to be the result of a mechanical problem.

“This appears to be something that just went wrong in the way that they transmit power from one part of the city to another,” he said.

Cuomo told CNN there was a malfunction at an electrical substation, and that the malfunction temporarily knocked out other substations.

Con Edison described the problem as an “equipment failure” and said the cause of that failure will be investigated. CEO John McAvoy said his company divides the electric system into networks that are roughly equivalent to neighborhoods, and that Saturday’s problem 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,” McAvoy said.

Cuomo described a power outage of this magnitude as unacceptable, and said he’s called for a full investigation into the cause. He applauded residents for keeping their cool.

“This could have been much worse. When you’re talking about a city like New York with a significant piece of the city, basically suffering a blackout, that could be a very chaotic situation. We saw the exact opposite, actually. We saw New Yorkers at their best.”

The sun sets behind 42nd Street in Manhattan during the power outage.
PHOTO: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The sun sets behind 42nd Street in Manhattan during the power outage.

Regular people directed traffic

Lake Escobosa, 23, spent nearly an hour directing traffic Saturday evening.

The Brooklyn dancer guided cars, ambulances and pedestrians through a busy, three-way intersection near Lincoln Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“I know how tricky it is when it comes to that intersection and I just saw in my mind car accidents, people getting hit, people screaming,” she said. “So I felt like I should have just tried.”

On Columbus Avenue, outside Fordham University’s campus, brightly lit food carts illuminated the pitch-black streets.

Others spill out onto the streets

The outage had a widespread effect on the New York subway system. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority warned people to stay away from underground stations and consider taking the bus.

The city’s fire department responded to numerous transformer fires and rescued people trapped in elevators and subway cars.

Several Broadway and off-Broadway shows said they were canceling performances.

Cast members from Broadway musical “Come From Away” held an impromptu performance outside their darkened theater. So did some Carnegie Hall performers.

“After being trapped on the F for an hour because of the power outage, I emerged to see dark restaurants and traffic lights, civilians directing traffic and an evacuated Carnegie Hall concert happening in the street,” Briallen Hopper tweeted.

The outage came 42 years to the day after an extensive blackout left much of the city in darkness for 25 hours, leading to a crime rampage.

CNN’s Paul Murphy, Sergio Hernandez, Laura Ly, Sean O’Key and Joshua Girsky in New York contributed to this report.