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Hospital Patients Kept Alive By Hand During Blackout

August 15, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Nurses kept hospital patients alive by operating respirators by hand and a Wall Street firm set up in a hotel ballroom because of a fire-caused blackout in its third day today in lower Manhattan.

The fire Monday at a Consolidated Edison substation trapped thousands of Wall Street workers in steamy buildings. By Tuesday, most of the Wall Street area and the American Stock Exchange and New York commodities markets had reopened.

But Con Ed said the South Street Seaport, the Fulton Fish Market and a 1,550-unit high-rise apartment complex could be without power until Sunday. The utility estimated 1,600 customers were affected.

About 2,000 utility workers were pulling and splicing cables today in the 38-block zone surrounding the South Street Seaport tourist attraction-sho pping area, said Con Ed spokeswoman Pat Richardi.

″Things are pretty much the same as they were yesterday,″ she said.

Residents and businesses in the area, for the most part, were showing great forbearance and keeping their spirits up, Ms. Richardi said. ″I think by and large people have shown a lot of patience and even good humor.″

The 300-bed Beekman-Downtown Hospital was without power Tuesday for about 1 1/2 hours when its emergency generators failed.

No patients were hurt, but nurses had to operate the respirators of 14 patients by hand until portable generators provided by Con Edison and the Fire Department were set up in their rooms, said nursing director Sandra Sperry.

The hospital canceled all non-emergency operations.

The hospital was providing all essential services to its patients this morning, said spokeswoman Joan Macri. ″Things are very good now. ... Everybody’s spirits are up. Everyone is pitching in.″

County Natwest USA shifted 75 people in its equity sales and trading operations to the Grand Renaissance ballroom at the Helmsley Palace hotel in midtown Manhattan after it was driven from its offices on Wall Street.

Employees of Quick & Reilly Inc. hauled trading and account records down 14 flights of stairs. The discount brokerage managed to hook up telephones in its stock clearing firm shortly after the market opened at 9:30 a.m.

″We all came down carrying boxes and bags,″ said Thomas Quick, the brokerage’s president. ″Then it was navigating the crowds on the streets.″

At the Fulton Fish Market, Joe Minio, owner of Smitty’s Filet House, said he had bought about $1,000 worth of dry ice to try and keep his salmon, tuna and swordfish cold. John Flanigan, owner of Emerald Sea Food, said he could lose 75 percent of his Monday shipment of fish.

Con Edison spokesman Bill Murphy said damage was so extensive to the substation that it was impossible to determine the cause of the fire.

DS-08-15-90 1203EDT

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