The return of 1970s-era gas lines to the five boroughs of New York City was not the result of a single miscalculation, but a combination of missed opportunities, ignored warnings and a lack of decisiveness by city and state officials that produced a deepening crisis and sense of frustration.
Even before Hurricane Sandy came ashore, city and state officials moved quickly to shut down a sprawling transit system and order mass evacuations. But heading off a potential gas shortage seemed to be a low priority, if one at all, according to government officials, industry experts and gas station owners.
Image via Shutterstock
Superstorm Sandy has been responsible for one of the most long lasting gas shortages throughout New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas. For more than a week, homeowners and drivers have been waiting in long lines without guarantee that there will be any gas left when they finally get to the pump.
Motorists in New Jersey and New York exchanged words as they faced a second day of stressful, sometimes mile-long lines at the gas stations that still had both electricity and supplies after superstorm Sandy. Power outages kept many pumps out of service and tough travel made fuel deliveries difficult.
A police officer directed traffic at a Gulf station in Newark, N.J., as a line of vehicles stretched for about two miles. Dozens of people with empty red gas canisters also stood in the line that snaked around the station.
Some consumers were looking for help online. For the past week, Hess Express has published a daily list of N.Y., N.J. and surrounding area stations that are open and the specific number of gallons available. Hess recommends going to a station only if its inventory exceeds 7,000 gallons. ExxonMobil offered a daily list of functioning stations, but no details about inventory.
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor, Daniel P. Malloy authorized the Metropolitan Transit Authority to waive fares Thursday and Friday as an inducement to get people to take mass transit instead of driving. Cuomo added that the reopening of New York Harbor has provided eight million gallons of fuel and another 28 million will be delivered over the next two days.
At the heart of the fuel supply crunch is the fact that Sandy has devastated the energy industry's ability to move fuel into and around the New York City region, particularly the harbor, by any of the three means that normally supply the area: tanker imports from abroad; pipeline shipments from the U.S. Gulf Coast; or refinery production from the mid-New Jersey area.
GasBuddy.com, a site launched in 2004 to let drivers share info about fuel prices, now offers detailed maps showing which stations have gas and which to avoid. Unfortunately, as of November 8th, the latter still vastly outnumber the former.
The good news is none of these issues appears to be long-lasting; however, the bad news is that the supply crunch may get worse before it gets better.
Edited by Brooke Neuman