Hi everyone, just found THIS LINK
of what has to be the most incredible example of how bad things can get when the power distribution system's protective relay scheme fails to do it's job. The events starting around 3:50 are especially dramatic.
The comments provide some interesting details..now imagine this nightmare going on FOR HOURS in your neighborhood!!
Thankfully, it seems that modern protective relay setups (the video is from 1988) are more reliable.
Even so, this situation made me wonder..even though the relay system had failed, and admittedly it would be very risky, but wasn't there any way a line crew could have manually cut the power using cutters or a thing I've heard of called a "loadbuster'? It would seem to have lessened the overall damage to the homes and distribution system.