15 years later: The 2003 blackout that impacted 50 million people

Updated: Aug. 14, 2018 at 6:56 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - On this day in 2003, the city of Cleveland and surrounding Ohio experienced a massive power outage that impacted 50 million people across the country.

The blackout originated on the afternoon of Aug. 14 when an FirstEnergy plant in Northeast Ohio unexpectedly shut down due to overgrown trees and a damaged line.

It had a ripple effect on 21 plants across the country that shut down in three minutes.

Parts of the eastern United States, including New York and Detroit, and portions of Canada, like Toronto and Ottawa, experienced the biggest impact.

(Source: CNN)

In Cleveland, the power outage meant a water shortage. The blackout shut down the city's ability to continuing pumping water for its residents.

Trains, elevators, cell service, businesses, and more were disrupted during the outages.

Some power companies were able to restore services within hours, but other areas were without electricity for more than a day.

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