BRICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke Friday afternoon and said the state was “inching closer to normalcy” following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
But things seemed far from normal after the governor issued a gas rationing system to ease the strain several hours later. Starting at noon Saturday, New Jersey will move to an odd-even gas rationing system in 12 counties as part of a “limited state of energy emergency.”
Christie ordered odd-even fuel sales to help ease shortages and long gas lines that have occurred since Sandy decimated the coast earlier this week.
Residents with license plates ending in an odd number can make gas purchases on odd-numbered days of the month Residents with plates ending in an even number will be able to buy gas on even-numbered days, the governor said.
Specialized plates or those not displaying a number will be considered odd numbered plates, a release from the governor’s office stated.
Not everybody was in love with the idea.
“I think it’ll hurt. I think they should just let people line up and get gas — first come first served,” Secaucus resident John Lambert told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis on Friday night.
“Come on. People got jobs, gotta go to work. What difference does it make — odd days or even days? It really doesn’t matter,” added Todd Swain of Passaic.
The following counties are included in the gas rationing system: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
“This system will ease the strain on those gas stations still operating, while we work to bring more online for the public to access fuel, in a manner that is fair, easy to understand, and less stressful,” Christie said.
Christie and Attorney General Jeff Chiesa pledged to aggressively enforce the order to ensure compliance and gauge effectiveness of the policy in the affected counties.
“The orderly and reliable sale of gas to our residents is essential to maintaining a steady and reliable source of power for both transportation and the maintenance of essential services at home. With the challenges we face in the storm’s aftermath, we will be vigilant in enforcing this odd-even system, as we ease the stresses on the system,” Chiesa said.
On the issue of gasoline, Christie called the situation a “tale of two states” that was separated by I-195.
“South of 195, 95 percent of stations are open and operating. North of 195, 25 percent of stations are open and operating,” Christie said.
The governor also said “a lot of these gas stations are not equipped to use generators to get going,” referring to stations unable to serve customers.
Gas companies Gulf and Hess both said they would deliver gas with the National Guard and FEMA to any station that is out of gas, the governor said Friday afternoon.
Despite the fact that the casinos have opened in Atlantic City and travel bans have been lifted in areas like Cape May County, Christie expressed grief that there are places in the state “You can’t recognize…anymore.”
“It is heartbreaking for every New Jerseyan to see our shoreline cut in half,” Christie said, referring to communities in Bay Head and Mantoloking.
“You can’t recognize the places anymore,” Christie said.
The governor said the most important priorities for the state include getting power back on, getting gas to the pumps, getting kids back in school and making sure people have clean water to drink.
With regard to getting power restored in the state, which still has nearly 1.5 million customers in the dark, Christie said good progress was being made, but utilities must continue to work diligently.
“It’s fine for us to show the patience we’ve shown so far,” Christie said, adding though that utilities would have “problems with me” if they didn’t continue making progress.
“I understand personally the anxiety and stress from not being at your home and being without power,” Christie said.
With respect to Tuesday’s election, Christie said that New Jersey residents could go to county courts offices, which will be open over the weekend, to vote.
“No reason to wait,” Christie said.
The governor said that if polling places are open, residents can vote as normal. However, if they are not, there will be a truck near the polling location, where people can vote with a paper ballot.
Officials in New Jersey said that if your polling place does not have power on election day, you should text 877877 and you will be given real-time information on where to vote.
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