Gas Shortage Causes Fears Among Consumers
By ALANNA LEVINE and JONATHAN LANZ
Originally Published November 2012
On October 29, Hurricane Sandy, a category 1 storm, made landfall in the tri-state area. Although the brunt of the storm was felt in New Jersey, its effects were felt throughout the region. Before the storm hit, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all ports and oil pipelines on Long Island to shut down. This shutdown caused various gas shortages throughout the area.
“There are continuing issues with the fuel delivery and distribution system,” Cuomo said at a press briefing last week, adding, “We do believe it is a short term problem.” Workers such as Ash Gaied, who is the manager of a local gas station, had this to say on the issue; “It’s more pressure on us, they yell, they curse, you wouldn’t believe it.” Gaied said that one gas delivery lasts about seven hours at his station, and the he has to wait nearly a full day for a second shipment.
On November 9 Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced that the county will institute gas rationing. Cars with license plates ending with an odd number would be able to fill their tanks on odd numbered days, cars with plates ending with an even number could fill up on even numbered days. Mangano added that vanity plates that have no numbers or end in a letter are considered odd.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone agreed with Mangano’s decision to institute rationing. “This temporary fuel policy will ease the challenges residents of the bi-county region are experiencing in the aftermath of this storm,” said Bellone. “Our citizens travel between Nassau and Suffolk without regard to county borders and it only makes sense that we adopt a regional solution. I thank my counterpart Nassau County Executive Mangano for working with me to adopt this policy.”
The new odd-even system seems to be working. Gas lines have been reduced to about only a couple of cars.
Hurricane Sandy was a challenge for all of us, including the gas stations. A common misconception by the public was that the gas stations were benefitting from the extreme need for gas. This was not the case, according to Robert Jerone, owner of multiple gas stations including the Mobil station in Hicksville. The first four days after the storm his station had no electricity. When power was finally restored, he prioritized the gasoline was still in the ground – firefighters, first responders, his accounts, and then the public, in that order. The small amount was gone quickly and could not be replenished for a while. The pumps took four and a half hours to fill because they weren’t working properly due to damage. With the shortage in gas and long lines, it was emotional and stressful situation for Jerone. He had to hire extra people, security, and receive assistance from the police to control the lines.
Jerone’s Mobil is also a service station. “As a dealer it’s been really tough, people’s first priorities were not to get their car fixed so that slowed down the other part of our business.” “It has been an economically bad situation,” he said the normal income of 60 thousand dollars a week was reduced to 18 thousand the first week and 29 thousand the following. A drastic difference, plus the regular bills, and the other security expenses did not help.
People lied about being doctors, working for FEMA, any way they saw possible to cut the line. Though people were ready to fight, Jerone’s staff really helped keep everything under control. Luckily there were no or injuries. One shocking event that Jerone recalled was when a man came through the one exits shouting “FEMA, FEMA, I AM WITH FEMA” so he could cut at the line. The man had no proof but Jerone he let him get his gas. It was later learned that the man was a chimney sweep. “There are lots of good people out there but a few idiots,” Jerone said, “ I saw Red Lobster gave out coffee and free drinks. A Chinese restaurant gave out free food to the people on line.” While some people were impatient and lied, others waited on 10-hour lines. You get the good and the bad in these types of situations.”
Although many consumers are worried about the shortages in the area, most believe that normalcy will return by the end of the month.