Latest challenge from storm for NJ: Rationed gas

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm •  Published: November 3, 2012

"If everyone complies with this system, it will ease lines and wait times and create a less stressful situation for everyone involved," said Christie, speaking in the parking lot of a church where the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up a center to help people file claims.

He said three fuel depots have been set up in the state to provide up to 15 gallons of gas to doctors and nurses so they can get to work. The main problem, Christie said, is that many gas stations just don't have power.

"It is in the most part a power issue, which we are moving to repair. It's also a fuel issue in some respects because a lot of the pipelines and other things are down because they don't have power," he said, adding that a lot of gas stations in northern New Jersey don't have the ability to add generators.

Jessica Tisdale of Totowa waited in her Mercedes SUV for 40 minutes with her even-numbered plate and a half tank of gas. She wanted to try to fill up just in case. She didn't quite understand the rationing, which she heard about Friday night.

"Is it the number or the letter?" she asked around 12:10. "I don't think it's fair. I've been in the line since before noon. I don't think it's fair. There's no clarity."

A police officer saw her plate and ordered her out of line, wagging his finger at her then pointing her to the passing lane of traffic.

"That's not fair," she said. The officer threw up his hands and shrugged.

Raj Khindri, who works at the station, said the system was working well.

"Everything is good. Everyone is compromising," he said. "I have a good relationship with the terminal. That's why I have gas."

In flood-ravaged Belmar, where two lakes near the ocean were overwhelmed by the storm surge, many streets were still under water Saturday, nearly five days after Sandy made landfall. Many homes had piles of ruined belongings on the curb, and neighbors were pitching in to clear out basements that were full of water for days. The owners of Tulipano's, an Italian restaurant on Main Street, were cooking big trays of penne marinara and giving it away to anyone who came inside.

Tam Wall, who was clearing out her basement with her husband and three children, said it took about 10 minutes for her basement to fill with 5 feet of water when the storm surge inundated Belmar. All she salvaged in those chaotic minutes were specially prepared meals for her 17-year-old daughter, Emily, who has epilepsy and is on a ketogenic diet.

"If we run out of her food, we have to leave the state," Tam Hall said. They've been cooking at the house of a relative with a generator and have enough to last a few days.

Susan Pringle, 48, and her children escaped from their Belmar home in kayaks during the storm. Saturday was the first chance they had to pump the 5 feet of water from their basement and clean out ruined belongings. They got help from volunteers, including football players and cheerleaders from Wall High School.

Pringle said they would repair the damage and keep living there.

"I would never leave Belmar. My children would kill me. They would not allow us to leave," she said.

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Nuckols reported from Belmar.