News Column

Sandy Means Long Gas Lines, Short Tempers

Nov. 2, 2012

Police arrested a New York man for pulling a gun on another person while in line to buy gasoline -- in short supply after Hurricane Sandy, officials said.

To help address fuel issues in the Sandy-affected areas, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a temporary blanket waiver of the Jones Act Friday to allow additional oil tankers from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports to provide additional fuel resources to the region.

"The administration's highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and this waiver will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm damaged region," Napolitano said in a release.

Among other things, the Jones Act requires that all goods carried from United States port to another port must be on a ship chartered and owned by American citizens, along with other protections for seamen.

Napolitano's action immediately allows additional ships to begin shipping petroleum products from the Gulf of Mexico to Northeastern ports, increasing the access to fuel in the storm damaged region, the department said. The waiver is effective through Nov. 13th.

Meanwhile, authorities said the U.S. death toll attributed to Hurricane Sandy climbed to at least 90, including 40 in the New York metropolitan area.

Officials said Sean Bailey, 35, of New York tried to cut in line at a gas station Thursday, pointing a handgun at another patron who complained, Fox News reported. Bailey was arrested on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

In New Jersey, state troopers were deployed at all gas stations along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway as the region entered its fourth day of power outages, Fox News reported.

"Troopers have been deployed to monitor the operational gas stations at the rest areas along the turnpike," New Jersey State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman said.

Officials said more than half of all gasoline stations in the New York City area and New Jersey have been idle either because they're out of fuel or due to lack of power to operate the pumps. Also, pipelines and refineries are shuttered because of storm damage.

Residents of southeastern Connecticut were driving more than an hour north to find stations in operation, Fox News said.

Residents in affected areas are searching for batteries to operate flashlights and other electronics.

At a Lowe's building supplies store in Orange, N.Y., one manager said he and other employees have stayed in nearby motels to keep the store open.

"You see the worst in people at a time like this," he told Fox News. "We're trying to be there for them, but they get angry when they can't get batteries or flashlights. I tell the staff not to take it personally -- people are hurting."

Power was restored early Friday to about half the 10 million households and businesses that lost electricity, the Edison Electric Institute utility trade group said.

All of Manhattan was expected to have lights by Saturday, utility Consolidated Edison said. Neighborhoods served by overhead lines likely won't have power for at least another week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

New York City transit bottlenecks eased with the reopening of some subways, but most transit in New Jersey was still down, although New Jersey Transit began limited commuter rail service to and from New York's Pennsylvania Station Friday.

Amtrak resumed southbound train service from Penn Station Thursday night and limited service to Boston Friday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday President Barack Obama sent 250,000 gallons of gas and 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel to the state through the Defense Department, and he pledged more if needed.

Paterson, N.J., police said if they were unable to negotiate emergency contracts for gas soon, they would have to begin siphoning gasoline from other city vehicles to keep police cruisers running, The New York Times reported.

City officials told the newspaper they reached agreement with a major oil supplier Thursday night that would ensure emergency vehicles could continue running. They included sanitation trucks and parks department equipment to clean up downed trees as emergency vehicles in addition to fire and police.



Source: Copyright United Press International 2012


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