Fuel shortage means gridlock in lines for gasoline
BY CHRISTOPHER SULLIVAN Associated Press
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 5:42 AM
NEW YORK - When it came to fuel supplies and patience, the New York metro area was running close to empty Friday.
From storm-scarred New Jersey to parts of Connecticut, a widespread lack of gasoline or electricity to pump it brought grousing, gridlock and worse, compounding frustrations as millions of Americans struggled to return to normal days after superstorm Sandy.
Lines of cars, and in many places queues of people on foot carrying bright red jerry cans for generators, waited for hours for the precious fuel. And those were the lucky ones. Other customers gave up after finding only closed stations or dry pumps marked with yellow tape or "No Gas" signs.
"I drove around last night and couldn't find anything," said a relieved Kwabena Sintim-Misa as he finally prepared to fill up Friday morning in Fort Lee, N.J., near the George Washington Bridge, where the wait in line lasted three hours.
Arlend Pierre-Louis of Elmont, on Long Island, said he awoke at 4:30 a.m. to try to get gas.
When he finally found some - "the one working pump in Elmont" - the line was so long he gave up and returned to his home, which still has no light or hot water.
Arguments in gas station queues in Queens and in Pelham led to arrests, authorities said. In the first case, a man pulled a gun, and in the second police confiscated a box cutter. No one was hurt.
Sandy damaged ports that accept fuel tankers and flooded underground equipment that sends fuel through pipelines.
The Port of New York and New Jersey was slowly starting to accept tankers, but some cargo was being diverted to the Port of Virginia. Federal requirements for low-smog gasoline have been lifted, and fuel trucks are on their way to the area.
On Friday, the Obama administration ordered the purchase of up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas affected by the storm to supplement private-sector efforts. It will be transported by tanker trucks to New York, New Jersey and other damaged communities.
In addition, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano temporarily waived a maritime rule to allow foreign oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order waiving the state's requirement that fuel tankers register and pay a tax before unloading.
New Jersey planned to move to a gas-rationing system in 12 counties in the northern part of the state.
Gov. Chris Christie ordered the rationing to help ease fuel shortages and long lines at gas stations. Starting at noon Saturday, residents with license plates ending in an even number will be able to buy gas only on even-numbered days. Those with plates ending in an odd number can purchase gas on odd-numbered days.
In Connecticut, traffic jams created by New Yorkers exiting from Interstate 95 to take advantage of the stations that were open were "making it difficult for everybody," said Greenwich police Lt. Kraig Gray.
Original Print Headline: Gasoline remains scarce in wake of superstorm Sandy
Cars wait for gas Friday in a line in Brooklyn that stretches about a mile and a half. In parts of New York and New Jersey, drivers face another day of lining up for hours at gas stations struggling to stay supplied. SETH WENIG/Associated Press