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Long lines, rising tempers seen at gas stations

By Eileen AJ Connelly and Meghan Barr

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:45 p.m. HST, Nov 02, 2012

NEW YORK » Motorists increasingly desperate for a fill-up fumed in long lines at gas stations and screamed at each other today 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 this 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 today, 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.

"It's been mostly older folks who aren't able to get out," said Monique George of Manhattan-based Community Voices Heard. "In some cases, they hadn't talked to folks in a few days. They haven't even seen anybody because the neighbors evacuated. They're actually happy that folks are checking, happy to see another person. To not see someone for a few days, in this city, it's kind of weird."

On Thursday, police recovered the bodies of two brothers, ages 2 and 4, who were swept away after the SUV driven by their mother, Glenda Moore, stalled in Sandy's floodwaters Monday evening.

"Terrible, absolutely terrible," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said as he announced that Brandon and Connor had been found dead. "It just compounds all the tragic aspects of this horrific event."

The discovery was another heartbreaking blow to Staten Island, a hard-hit borough that residents complained has been largely forgotten. At least 19 people have been killed in Staten Island, about half the death toll for all of New York City.

Garbage is piling up, a stench hangs in the air and mud-caked mattresses and couches line the streets. Residents picked through their belongings, searching for anything that could be salvaged.

"We have hundreds of people in shelters," said James Molinaro, the borough's president. "Many of them, when the shelters close, have nowhere to go because their homes are destroyed. These are not homeless people. They're homeless now."

Molinaro complained the American Red Cross "is nowhere to be found," and some residents questioned what they called the lack of a response by government disaster relief agencies.

A relief fund is being created just for storm survivors on Staten Island, Molinaro and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said today. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and a top Federal Emergency Management Agency official planned to tour the island.

Bloomberg on Thursday defended the decision to hold the marathon, saying electricity is expected to be restored to all of Manhattan by race day, freeing up "an enormous number of police."

"This city is a city where we have to go on," he said.

But Staten Island resident George Rosado blasted the city for the decision.

"It's repulsive," said Rosado, who spent two days scrubbing sludge from his tiled floors and was preparing to demolish the water-logged walls of his home a block from the water. He added: "They should be getting resources to the elderly people who can't fend for themselves. That's more important than a marathon right now."

Along the devastated Jersey Shore, residents were allowed back in their neighborhoods Thursday for the first time since Sandy slammed the coast. Some were relieved to find only minor damage, but many others were wiped out.

"A lot of tears are being shed today," said Dennis Cucci, whose home near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach was heavily damaged. "It's absolutely mind-boggling."

Associated Press writers Cara Anna and Karen Matthews in New York, David Porter in Moonachie, N.J., and Wayne Parry in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., contributed to this story.

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dalawyer wrote:
Gas isn't the only problem in New York and New Jersey. Price gouging is becoming ever so rampant in both cities. With no electricity people can't cook at home. Food is spoiled. Heard of one pizza deli selling a slice of pizza for $20! Gas going for double the price! When there's a disaster there's always an opportunist! Supply and demand creates increased revenue!
on November 2,2012 | 08:07AM
kennie1933 wrote:
If any of you ever watch Japanese NHK broadcasts (they're in English) on channel 682/1682, in the aftermath and even now, they often broadcast recovery efforts. In one story, a couple of days after the disaster, a restaurant owner whose restaurant was damaged packed up whatever equipment he could salvage and opened a site near one of the shelters. He cooked and gave away meals to as many survivors as he could until all his stock and money ran out. A few months later, he tried to reopen his restaurant with borrowed money and on reopening day his restaurant was packed with people who had remembered his kindness. All in the plan? Maybe. But for that NY pizza deli, I'd remember, too, and when everything is up and running again, I'd make sure I never went to that deli again even if it was the last restaurant on earth.
on November 2,2012 | 01:31PM
Pocho wrote:
All Bush's Fault
on November 2,2012 | 08:09AM
tiki886 wrote:
With our tsunami close call and this super storm in the NE, this should be a reminder for us in Hawaii to store dehydrated food for at least two weeks minimum in case power is disrupted or shipping is halted because of natural disasters or financial upheavals.
on November 2,2012 | 08:19AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Toilet paper and beer are my only two necessities to survive for two months.
on November 2,2012 | 08:24AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Twenty months ago, the world watched in horror as a tsunami devastated a large section of Japan, killing almost 20,000 people. In the aftermath, the world watched in amazement as hundreds of Japanese stood in long lines with bottles and water jugs in hand patiently waiting their turn to get water from tanker trucks. There was no pushing, shoving, yelling, screaming, line-bucking or fights. They all were in the same predicament and showed total respect for each other. What New Yorkers are going through now is nothing compared to what the Japanese experienced, yet the way New Yorkers are acting is shameful.
on November 2,2012 | 08:27AM
Pocho wrote:
LOL, just think what it would be like if this destruction caused by mother nature happened in Korea
on November 2,2012 | 08:51AM
csdhawaii wrote:
In 2006, an earthquake hit the Hawaiian islands. Power was out for one day. ONE DAY. There were riots in parking lots of grocery stores as panicked residents rushed to purchase and hoard food supplies. THAT was nothing, and the way some Hawaii residents behaved was more than shameful. Neither the earthquake nor this storm compares to the Japan tsunami, true, and yes, it would be nice if every country could show the same restraint that Japan did when they were struck with that horrific tragedy. But give New Yorkers a break, because something tells me maybe you wouldn't act so different under similar circumstances.
on November 2,2012 | 09:48AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Agreed. Back in March 2011 in the days following the earthquake/tsunami, we watched the sad aftermath coverage from Japan and I remember telling my wife that if this happened in the US, people would NOT be as patient to wait in line, take turns, etc. I guess that's a major difference between them and us: concern for others vs. concern for self.
on November 2,2012 | 10:52AM
bumby2day wrote:
New York and New Jersey people only think for then self, in Hawaii and Japan people care for each other and the way we act.
on November 2,2012 | 08:49AM
SandBar wrote:
In Japan yes...in Hawaii...locals yes
on November 2,2012 | 10:49AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Sadly, not too sure about us locals either. Ever wonder why stores put limits on sale items? Longs, for example, is "Limit 5" on any sale item. And people will even buy the limit and stand in line again (different cashier...or maybe not) to buy another 5. Nevermind that the guy behind you might like a bag of rice or toilet paper, too. As long as I got MY haul! In Japan, if there were 100 bags of rice, I would bet that 100 different families would get a bag each. And if there were people at the end who missed out, people who did get a bag would offer to share. I recall seeing picture of Japanese people waiting in long lines for one bottle of water and one bowl of whatever food was available. I not sure how even us locals would react, myself included.
on November 2,2012 | 12:09PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Next time we have a scare try and see whose cramming their shopping carts.
on November 2,2012 | 03:10PM
momigirl wrote:
CSD Hawaii: I did not hear of one, not one riot or fight here in Hawaii.
on November 2,2012 | 04:21PM
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