As New York and New Jersey continue to reel in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, about 1.7 million people still without electricity in their homes -- and fellow residents of those two states -- are grappling with another thorny question as the energy infrastructure is slowly re-established: Where can they get gasoline?
Lines for the comparatively small number of gas stations that have reopened in both states stretch miles, leaving anxious drivers to wait hours before they can refuel their cars.
Robert Sinclair, a AAA New York representative, said Friday that only 40 percent of the 2,944 gas stations tracked by AAA in New Jersey had had their power restored and were fully operational, CNN reported.
Among the 1,472 gas stations on Long Island in New York, Sinclair said only 35 percent were up and running at that time.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie on Friday ordered odd-even rationing of gasoline purchases in 12 of the 21 counties in the state, most of them in its northern reaches. The rationing went into effect Saturday at noon in the following counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren.
Under New Jersey's rationing system, all retail dealers of motor fuel are required to sell motor fuel only for use in a passenger automobile bearing license plates. Those with license plates whose last number is odd are able to buy gas only on odd-numbered days of the month; those with license plates whose last number is even are able to buy gas only on even-numbered days of the month. Specialized plates -- or those not displaying a number -- will be considered odd-numbered plates.
The biggest problem for New Jersey’s gas stations has actually been access to electrical power, as opposed to the availability of motor fuel supplies, according to the New York Times. The power outages have funneled car owners into less than one-half of the state’s gas stations, creating a bottleneck despite the fact gas prices have remained relatively low throughout the recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, New York made an attempt to provide free fuel to those in need on Saturday. By 3:30 p.m. EDT that day, New York magazine reported the service was being restricted to emergency workers after the outlets offering free fuel were swarmed by New Yorkers.
At a briefing Sunday , New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo warned residents not to hoard gas or drive more than necessary, saying the fuel shortage would continue into next week.
“Now is not the time to be using the car, if you don’t need to,” Cuomo said according to the New York Times. “Now is not the time to be hoarding fuel.”
Cuomo added that fuel tankers continue to head to New York to supply the state. The Inwood and Northville terminals, both of which help transport fuel to Long Island, are already open, with 1.5 million gallons of gas scheduled for delivery at Northville on Sunday alone.
In New Jersey, the Port Elizabeth terminal was open Sunday, as well.