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Gas rationing, shortage fray nerves in NYC

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012
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"The rationing really helps us a lot," said Lindenbaum, owner of Court Express. "We need to work. We need the gas."

Lindenbaum drew the line at one hoarding technique: He posted a sign that said, "Drivers, do not carry full gas containers in your car."

Some cab drivers have been doing just that. One taxi reeked of gasoline from the extra cans sloshing around in the back seat with a passenger.

Desperate drivers weren't paying much attention to prices, but in New Jersey, seven gas stations were among the eight businesses sued by the state Friday on price-gouging claims.

Meanwhile, many officials were pointing to power companies as the culprit in the region's slow recovery. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for investigation of the region's utilities, criticizing them as unprepared and badly managed. On Friday, two congressmen from Long Island urged the federal government — even the military — to come in and help the Long Island Power Authority restore electricity.

"When the lights went off in Baghdad and the lights went off in Kabul, it was the Army Corps of Engineers that went into Baghdad and Kabul to turn the lights back on," said Rep. Steve Israel. "We don't need to turn the lights back on in Kabul and Baghdad. We need to turn the lights back on in Plainview and Great Neck and the south shore."

Long Island's main utility, the Long Island Power Authority, has declined to respond to criticism, while New York utility Consolidated Edison Corp. has called the storm the worst in its history.

On Friday evening, National Grid, which manages the system on LIPA's behalf, said about 95 percent of customers affected by the storm would have power restored by the end of Tuesday. It said those 95 percent are in non-flood areas.

Obama said Friday that he will meet with affected residents and first responders in a tour of the hardest-hit areas of the city.

Some residents of Toms River, N.J., were given a precious hour Friday to see their storm-wrecked houses for the first time and grab warm-weather clothing, important pictures — whatever belongings they could. When Steve Dabern saw his flooded house, the floor was torn in pieces, the refrigerator was on its side and the kitchen furniture was in the living room.

"Sickness. I felt sick," he said.

Bloomberg said the gas shortages could last for a couple of weeks, worrying many New Yorkers who say gas is vital to their lives.

At St. Mary's Children's Hospital in Queens, workers who visit 4,000 sick children have been getting up as early as 2 a.m. to get on gas lines, said chief administrative officer Hope Mavaro Iliceto. Some have run out of fuel while waiting in line, she said.

At the Brooklyn gas station, Ruben Quinonez and Edgar Luna were in the delivery truck they drive for a bakery in Mahopac, north of the city. They normally work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., making deliveries in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but every day since the storm they have added a long wait in a gas line.

"You can't take the risk," Quinonez said. "Bread has got to be fresh."

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Fitzgerald reported from White Plains, N.Y. Associated Press writers Frank Eltman in North Massapequa, Paul Harloff, Meghan Barr, David B. Caruso, Jennifer Peltz, Colleen Long and Karen Matthews in New York, Wayne Parry in Toms River, N.J., Samantha Henry in Newark, N.J., and Brett Zongker and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.