The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

November 2, 2012

Long lines, rising tempers seen at gas stations

NEW YORK — Motorists increasingly desperate for a fill-up fumed in long lines at gas stations and screamed at each other Friday as fuel shortages in Superstorm Sandy’s wake spread across the metropolitan area.

Meanwhile, a backlash appeared to be building against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to hold the New York City Marathon on Sunday as scheduled, with some New Yorkers complaining that going ahead with the 26.2-mile race would be insensitive and divert city resources at a time when many are suffering.

Four days after Sandy slammed the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the U.S. death toll climbed past 90 in 10 states, and included two boys who were torn from their mother’s grasp by rushing floodwaters in Staten Island during the storm. Their bodies were found in a marshy area on Thursday.

With fuel deliveries in the East disrupted by storm damage and many gas stations lacking electricity to run their pumps, gasoline became a precious commodity, especially for those who depend on their cars for their livelihoods.

Some drivers complained of waiting three and four hours in line, only to see the pumps run out when it was almost their turn. Cars ran out of gas before they reached the front of the line. Police officers were assigned to gas stations to maintain order. In Queens, a man was charged Thursday with flashing a gun at another motorist who complained he was cutting in line.

At a Hess gas station Friday morning in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, the line snaked at least 10 blocks through narrow and busy streets. That caused confusion among other drivers, some of whom accidentally found themselves in the gas line. People got out of their cars to yell at them.

In addition, at least 60 people were lined up to fill red gas cans for their generators.

Vince Levine got in line in his van at 5 a.m. By 8 a.m., he was still two dozen cars from the front. “I had a half-tank when I started. I’ve got a quarter-tank now,” he said.

“There’s been a little screaming, a little yelling. And I saw one guy banging on the hood of a car. But mostly it’s been OK,” he said.

Cabdriver Harum Prince joined a line for gasoline in Manhattan that stretched 17 blocks down 10th Avenue, with about half the cars yellow cabs, a crucial means of getting around in a city with a still-crippled mass transit system.

“I don’t blame anybody,” he said. “God, he knows why he brought this storm.”

More 3.8 million homes and business in the East were still without power, down from a peak of 8.5 million. But across the New York metropolitan area, there were more signs that life was beginning to return to something approaching normal.

Consolidated Edison, the power company serving New York, said electricity should be restored by Saturday to customers in Manhattan and to homes and offices served by underground power lines in Brooklyn.  More subway and rail lines started operating again Friday, and the Holland Tunnel into New York was open to buses.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said Atlantic City’s 12 casinos could reopen immediately after a nearly five-day shutdown for Superstorm Sandy. Sandy slammed into the shoreline Monday night just a few miles from Atlantic City, which was flooded and lost an old section of its word-famous boardwalk but fared much better than other parts of New Jersey’s coast.

The prospect of better times ahead did little to mollify residents who spent another day and night in the dark.

“It’s too much. You’re in your house. You’re freezing,” said Geraldine Giordano, 82, a lifelong resident of the West Village. Near her home, city employees had set up a sink where residents could get fresh water, if they needed it. There were few takers. “Nobody wants to drink that water,” Giordano said.

There was increasing worry about the elderly. Community groups have been going door-to-door on the upper floors of darkened Manhattan apartment buildings, and city workers and volunteer in hard-hit Newark, N.J., delivered meals to senior citizens and others stuck in their buildings.

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