Hurricane Sandy leads to gas shortage, long lines

With millions of New Yorkers heading back to work and limited subway service, many residents hopped in their cars only to find no place to fill up.

“Gas is in short supply,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed at the daily press conference updating New Yorkers on the city’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

Long lines litter the gas stations throughout the borough that still have gas, with drivers waiting more than hour.

There have been refineries or distribution sites that have had issues post-Sandy causing them to shut down and those problems have cascaded through the system, the mayor said.

One gas station owner in Fresh Meadows said it may be days before the shortage is over. “The terminals that supply fuel to the gas stations are out of order, so it will probably take a few days. I own a gas station. We as gas station owners were told that we will not see any gas for three days (and that was Wednesday, October 31). The terminals are out of power,” he said.

Other stations are still without electricity, preventing them from pumping gas. “It’s one of these problems were just going to have to live through it,” Bloomberg said.

The lack of gas is also affecting business, say car service and livery cab companies around the city, which are being relied upon by thousands as an alternative to public transportation.

An employee of Empire Car Services, Inc. in Brooklyn said that “service is bad.” Bensonhurst Car Service seconded this complaint: “We’re not going into the city. We’re all out of gas.”

Whenever a stations gets a shipment of gas, they get mobbed and quickly run out, said Chris Mcbride, community transportation specialist at AAA.  Mcbride added, he’s also been getting reports of people bringing large containers for their generators.

“Once power is restored, more stations will open and when people see that, there will be less of a rush and less demand,” said Mcbride.

Bloomberg believed that once full service is restored to public transportation, that will help also relieve some of the rush.

Senator Charles Schumer announced the reopening of New York Harbor for fuel, which will help alleviate some of the shortage.

“With mass transit still hobbled and power still out in many parts of the New York City, Westchester and Long Island, gasoline is critical to the health and well being of those impacted by the storm, so many of who are now dependent on generators,” said Schumer.

New York Harbor is the busiest oil port in the world, receiving an average of 900,000 barrels of petroleum products per day, according to the Energy Department.

The length of the shortage will likely depend on how long power is out in a significant portion of the area, Mcbride said.  If the outage continues much longer, the government will need to get involved, he said.

“You wouldn’t want too many people hoarding it, if it means some people have none,” he said.

Reporting contributed by Elizabeth Coluccio. 

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