Just about every news organization either makes this mistake or isn't even aware of what they are doing.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, there are always reports about utility "customers" who are affected by outages.

The reports can be about the number of "customers" in a blackout, or the number of customers without water, or the number of customers who won't be getting trash pickup.

But what many news writers overlook or perhaps are not aware of is that the word "customer" refers to an account that the utility serves. That account could be a single family home with one person in it or a family of 12. Or that account could be an apartment building with fifty residents. Or that account -- that customer -- could be an office building, or a factory.

The point is, that when you report that Hurricane Irene has blacked out 300-thousand "customers" it doesn't mean that 300-thousand people are without power. Each customer could actually be a residence with many people.