Hurricane Sandy: New Yorkers Struggle To Find Gas, Free Or Otherwise [PHOTOS]

 @angeloyoung_a.young@ibtimes.com on November 03 2012 9:52 PM
  • Hurricane Sandy: Gas Shortage Slideshow
    A Queens, N.Y., service station near the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) tells drivers on Saturday it has no fuel via a common sign seen throughout the tristate area ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy: Gas Shortage Slideshow
    One BP service station on the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport in Queens, N.Y., had gasoline, attracting motorists from miles around. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy: Gas Shortage Slideshow
    One of the few gas stations that had fuel Saturday afternoon in Queens, N.Y., had a line of prospective customers stretching for more than a mile. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy: Gas Shortage Slideshow
    Hundreds of residents of Jamaica in Queens, N.Y., lined up at a BP service station to fill gas containers. Some needed fuel to power home generators in blacked-out areas, but most were buying gas for the cars clogging the residential streets around the station. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy: Gas Shortage Slideshow
    Several New York Police Department officers kept order at a BP service station in Jamaica, Queens, on Saturday afternoon. Despite the heavy police presence, the mood was subdued: The locals appeared to take the whole situation in stride. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy Gas Shortage Slideshow
    A resident of Jamaica in Queens, N.Y., filled up two erstwhile water bottles with gasoline on Saturday. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy Gas Shortage Slideshow
    Thousands of New Yorkers gathered at the Queens National Guard Armory in Jamaica on Saturday. Some waited as long as eight hours for their free 10-gallon rations. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy Gas Shortage Slideshow
    National Guard members played the roles of gas-station attendants in Queens, N.Y., on Saturday as they gave free fuel to anyone who approached with a gas canister in tow. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy Gas Shortage Slideshow
    Pictured is one of the three tanker trucks dispatched to the Queens National Guard Armory in Jamaica on Saturday. The New York National Guard members had 16,000 gallons of free fuel to distribute, according to one of them. IBTimes/Angelo Young
  • Hurricane Sandy Gas Shortage Slideshow
    Less than a mile from where free fuel was being given away by members of the National Guard on Saturday, motorists lined up at a service station where they saw a bus refueling. They eventually began dispersing after realizing the only fuel available there was diesel. IBTimes/Angelo Young
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New Yorkers Ranuel Somorin and wife Marlia waited eight hours on Saturday at the Queens National Guard Armory in Jamaica for 20 free gallons of gasoline dished out by soldiers who were playing dual roles -- as crowd controllers and gas-station attendants -- under a federal emergency program to give away 10-gallon rations of gasoline per person while the gas-supply chain in the region recovers from Superstorm Sandy.

“I’ve been here since 10 this morning,” said Ranuel, a Guyanese-American resident of Jamaica who was lugging two five-gallon plastic gas canisters while his wife pulled a laundry basket with a borderline-antique metal gas can. “It’s for our generator. The transformer near our house burned -- no electricity, no heat, and we don’t know when the power will come back.”

Even after emergency-management officials announced they were stopping the giveaway program, giving precedence to emergency-response vehicles, the message had not yet arrived among the thousands of people descending on the armory, and the National Guard continued to give out gas to anyone who had already spent much of the day in line.

The importance of gasoline was evidenced across the storm-ravaged tristate area on Saturday afternoon as countless motorists scoured the city, burning fuel while looking for fuel to burn.

“That truck holds 5,000 gallons,” said a National Guardsman, who didn’t want his name used because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press, as he pointed to an Army tanker. “We got a 3,000 and an 8,000 -- 16,000 gallons [in all].”

Considering the sheer number of people waiting for their gasoline fix, that 16,000 gallons would surely run out before Sunday morning unless more fuel arrived.

Near the armory, a row of about 20 cars were lined up at a gas station that had a tanker parked nearby.

“They just dumped 2,000 gallons [into the station’s tank], but they don’t know it’s diesel,” said Joe Mancero, who was filling his midsize private passenger bus. A woman got out of one of the waiting cars and walked over to the station manager. After a brief exchange, she waved toward the other cars: No gas.

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