I was caught in the middle of the CBD blackout today. Not a fun way to end the day, but in a sense, it was an apt conclusion to what had been a dark day.
Earlier in the day, I had been tasked with a horrendous task of pulling together some stats for my manager, who was asked by the Minister to confirm the figures before publishing them to the public. R, my manager, had been given a set of figures by my predecessor Ms Evil, and they represented the good work that the unit had done over the last 3 years. As these figures were about to go public, R wanted to be sure they were correct before they were published by the Minister.
Even though Ms Evil wasn’t exactly the nicest person to deal with, there were no reasons to doubt her work. No one said anything bad about her work – it was her attitude towards others that everyone had a problem with. That was, until today.
When R asked me to double check the figures, I thought it would be a relatively easy task. I was to be proven very very wrong.
I spent all afternoon trying to match up her figures. I used every trick in the book to try to come up with the stats that she had given to R. I even sought assistance from the internet to make sure I was using the correct formulae in the Excel spreadsheet. 5 straight hours later, and I was no closer to reconciling her figures with what I was coming up with.
I have no idea where the figures have been extrapolated from, or how they were extrapolated. All I know was that the glowing report that R had originally passed on to the Minister was now looking not so good. The success rate R had reported was significantly lower according to my figures, and there was going to be a lot of explaining if my figures prove to be correct.
No one from my unit wants to deal with Ms Evil again. R and I have both made it clear that we don’t want to involve Ms Evil in our work going forward, and L (the junior in my team) has also said she is reluctant to deal with Ms Evil again. But it seems we may not have any choice – we are completely in the dark as to how she came up with her stats, and we need to resolve the problem now.
R said he would speak to Ms Evil in the morning to find out where she got the figures from and there was no need for me to deal with her. I gratefully agreed he would be the better candidate for the job – I know he would employ much more diplomacy than I could muster. Right now, I just want to throttle her.
Just before 5pm, I had almost finalised my figures when the building plunged into darkness. If I thought I was the dark earlier, I was now totally in the dark, literally.
The silver lining from this mess is that R and I are developing a great working relationship. And I have a good ally in L, who I want to protect from Ms Evil if she flies off her handle at L again – I’ve seen Ms Evil lose it at L once (and L had nothing do with the problem), and I never ever want L to experience that again.
Walking out of the office building this afternoon, I was confronted with chaos with all the traffic lights out of order. In a way, I was glad I had to think about keeping myself safe as I crossed the streets on my way to the bus stop – it made me temporarily forget the potential stink that will hit the fans in the morning!
LIGHTS BACK ON AFTER SYDNEY BLACKOUT
By Rhett Watson, The Daily Telegraph
March 30, 2009 06:45pm
Power and lights have been restored to Sydney’s CBD and eastern suburbs after a power failure played havoc with Sydney offices, ATMs and traffic.
Lights came on in Bondi and Darlinghurst at 6.25pm and were back on in Surry Hills and the city a short time later.
Energy Australia said there had been a fault that had hit four major cables which supply two sub-stations in the city at about 4.45pm.
Investigations later isolated the problem to one of the major cables and the other three were then used to get the power back on throughout central Sydney.
The power short caused hundreds of traffic lights to blackout creating a traffic disaster for commuters on their trip home.
Sydney Opera House was forced to cancel all performances for tonight.
More than 70,000 homes and businesses were affected and without power for over two hours during the blackout. The Sydney Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Distributor were closed.
Officials had estimated it could take until 9pm to fix the problem but were able to restore power just before 7pm.
Earlier one person was trapped in a lift in state parliament for about an hour until the carriage could be wound from the 7th to the 12th floor and opened.
Security could not confirm who was inside, except to say it was not the Premier.
Fire brigade officials were reporting alarms going off in buildings, causing confusion and fear. In the CBD’s Australia Square hundreds of workers were asked to leave the premises before they risked being plunged into darkness. Police were trying to send SMS alerts to city workers.
"Lots of buildings were evacuated,” one person leaving Australia Square said.
"Traffic lights were out across George Street causing traffic dramas everywhere."
One bureaucrat quipped that the "government has forgotten to pay its power bills".
The blackout extended from the Circular Quay to the city out to Redfern and Chippendale. Eastern beach suburbs such as Coogee, Dover Heights and Bondi also reported power losses, plus Paddington, Rose Bay and Darlinghurst as well as parts of the inner west.
Businesses only 20m apart were affected differently.
The Martin Place Bar was doing a roaring trade with the business types seeking refuge while the Lindt Cafe on the other side of Elizabeth Street on Martin Place is dark and practically empty.
"We have no idea why our lights are on but it’s certainly helped business," one bartender said.
An EnergyAustralia spokeswoman later told Macquarie Radio sections of the network had automatically shut down to protect itself.
"Until we can pinpoint the exact problem we can’t begin to restore power safely … so we will complete all our rigorous testing before we begin to restore power," she said when the blackout first happened.
"We don’t know what it is at this stage … the system is shutting down automatically to protect itself,"
The Roads and Traffic Authority said up to 100 sets of traffic lights were not working in the CBD and inner-eastern suburbs, while the harbour tunnel would remain closed until power was restored to its essential safety systems.
Sydney Ferries and CityRail are operating as normal.
A Sydney Opera House spokeswoman said Monday night’s performances by the Sydney Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare had to be cancelled, with the iconic venue running on back-up power.
A NSW Fire Brigades spokesman described the situation as "bedlam".
"We’ve had multiple lift rescues in the city and in Darlinghurst and Redfern," he told AAP.