NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — As the fight for fuel continues at the few stations still open across the Tri-State area, officials said Friday that they are working to get gas where it’s needed.
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Speaking at a news conference Friday morning, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that there is a shortage of fuel, but said “there is no reason to panic.”
“The issue of gasoline has created concern and anxiety and practical problems all throughout the region. People can’t get gas, there’s a slow down of the delivery of services, it’s increased the stress level all across the region,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to require some patience. This is not going to get better overnight because this was a major, major assault by Mother Nature that we went through.”
Damage to area ports and power outages from superstorm Sandy forced many gas stations to close and has disrupted fuel deliveries.
The Energy Department said 13 of the region’s 33 fuel terminals were closed because of Sandy as well as sections of major pipelines that serve the area.
Cuomo said Friday that two of those pipelines are now back online and that damaged harbors have been partially reopened.
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“The tankers started to re-enter the harbor and many of these tankers contained the fuel that is in route to the terminals which will then lead to distribution centers,” he said.
Barges with millions of gallons of gas arrived early Friday morning at terminals in Newburgh and on Long Island, Cuomo said.
The governor also said that the state is waiving its requirement for fuel tankers to register and pay a tax at harbor in order to speed up the process of getting fuel to distribution centers.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security said it is temporarily waiving some maritime rules to allow foreign oil tankers coming from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she is waiving the Jones Act, which prohibits international cargo ships from transporting oil between U.S. ports, until Nov. 13.
But as long lines continue to grow, so does the frustration of drivers forced to wait three hours or more in some spots for a chance to gas up their cars.
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And it’s not just vehicles. Long lines of people with gas cans to fill up for their generators have also been forming at stations all around the region.
On Friday, cars began lining up early in Westchester County. But in parts of Long Island, lines disappeared because stations had run out of gas.
By 6 a.m., at least 20 cars snaked along the breakdown lane of the northbound Deegan Expressway for gas at a rest stop near Stewart Leonard in Yonkers.
On the southbound Deegan, near the Yonkers racetrack, about 30 cars lined up on the exit lane for a gas station. The vehicles spilled over to the highway, partially blocking traffic coming off the busy thoroughfare.
At a Valero station on 14th Street near the Holland Tunnel, drivers said they waited in line for up to eight hours to get to the pump.
In Farmingdale, Long Island, at least four gas stations were closed or had yellow tape around the pumps because they were out of gas.
Kevin Beyer with the Long Island Gas Retailers Association said he thinks the gas situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
“Because what’s happening is as these stations are opening up and getting online with the power, they’re going to sell out just as quick,” he told CBS 2.
At a Hess gas station Friday morning in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, the line snaked at least 10 blocks through narrow and busy streets. That caused confusion among other drivers, some of whom accidentally found themselves in the gas line. People got out of their cars to yell at them.
In Queens early Thursday morning, authorities said a motorist was arrested after he attempted to cut a line at a gas station in and pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained.
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Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said 35-year-old Sean Bailey of Queens was arrested on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said Friday said officials are working with FEMA to get fuel flowing in the Garden State.
“I’ve assigned the head of the Economic Development Authority, Michele Brown, to work with the private sector and FEMA to get this moving and focus on where the problems lie at each station — whether it’s power or actually the availability of gas,” Christie said. “Where it’s power, a lot of these gas stations are not equipped to use generators to get them going. The ones that are equipped to use them, FEMA is sending generators there to get them up.”
Christie said the state has been divided into areas with operating gas stations and areas without.
“This is really a tale of two states,” he said. “South of 195, 90 percent of the gas stations are open and operating. North of 195, 25 percent of the gas stations are open and operating. We need to do much better.”
On it Twitter page, AAA said that it estimated only about 35 to 40 percent of the nearly 3,000 gas stations it monitors in New Jersey were operating.
The scarcity of gas in parts of New York and New Jersey has been sending drivers north into upstate New York in search of fuel.
Long lines of vehicles have been forming at gas stations in Orange County, just across the state line from northern New Jersey.
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Reports of drivers jumping the line brought out New York state troopers and local police to direct traffic Thursday at a gas station on Route 17A in the village of Florida. Stations in nearby Warwick also had long lines.
Drivers from lower Westchester also headed north to Brewster or further in search of gas.
AAA suggests drivers in New York and New Jersey call stations before going to fill up.
In Connecticut, consumer officials said they have received about 20 complaints of gas price gouging related to Sandy. A few consumers also have complained about the price of power generators that are in demand during electricity outages.
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